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I R E L A N 






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Ireland i VoL i, 





Prefatory Territorial Divisions of Ireland Physical Features of 
the Country Peculiarities of Soil, Climate, and Scenery 3 


Further of the Characteristics and Resources of the Island Present 
Form of Government 12 

The Original Inhabitants of Ireland 19 


The Religion of Ancient Ireland Many Writers say it was Wor- 
ship of the Sun, Moon, and Elements 24 


Advent of St. Patrick His Wonderful Apostolic Career in Ireland 
A Captive and a Swineherd for Years, he Escapes and becomes 
the Regenerator of the Irish Nation 29 

Ancient Laws and Government of the Irish 35 


Period of Danish Invasion 47 


iv Contents 


Battle of Clontarf, A.D. 1014 Total Overthrow of the Danish Army 
and Power in Ireland 52 

Desolating Civil Wars Among the Irish 58 


The Norman- Welsh Invasion of Ireland Their Landing in Wex- 
ford 63 

Superior Armament of the Normans Arrival of Henry II 72 


Prince John "Lackland" Created "Lord" of Ireland Splendid 
Heroism of Sir Armoricus Tristram 79 


Ireland Under the Earlier Edwards The Younger Bruce Elected 
King by the Irish Battle of Athenry Death of Bruce at Fau- 
ghart Hill 86 

Prince Lionel Viceroy for Edward III The Statute of Kilkenny 91 

Richard IPs Invasions Heroic Art MacMur rough 95 

Ireland During the Wars of the Roses 101 





The "Reformation" New Cause of Discord in Ireland in 

Contents v 


The Reformation Period Continued Edward VI, Mary I, Eliza- 
beth, and "John the Proud" 117 

The Geraldine War Hugh O'Neill and "Red Hugh" O'Donnell.. 123 


Confiscation of Desmond's Domains English Plantation of Mun- 
ster 130 

Conditions in Ulster Before the Revolt of O'Neill 133 

O'Neill Draws the Sword Victories of Clontibret and Armagh... 136 

Ireland Still Victorious Battles of Tyrrell's Pass and Drumfluich. . 141 


Irish Victory of the Yellow Ford, Called the Bannockburn of 
Ireland 145 


How O'Neill Baffled Essex O'Donnell's Victory of the Curlew 
Mountains 149 


King Philip Sends Envoys to O'Neill The Earl of Mountjoy 
Lord Deputy 153 


Ireland's Fortunes Take a Bad Turn Defeat of O'Neill and 
O'Donnell at Kinsale 158 


Sad Death of O'Donneli in Spain Heroic Defence of Dunboy.... 166 


Wane of Irish Resistance O'Neill Surrenders to Mountjoy at 
Mellifont 170 

Treachery of James I to the Irish Chiefs "The Flight of the Earls" 174 

vi Contents 



Confiscations and Penal Laws The Iron Rule of Lord Strafford. . 185 

Irish Military Exiles Rory O'More Organizes a Great Insurrection 192 


Horrors of Civil War in Ulster Battle of Kilrush Rory O'More 
Disappears from History 200 


Proceedings of the Confederation of Kilkenny Arrival of Owen 
Roe O'Neill and Rinuccini 208 


Treason of Ormond to the Catholic Cause Owen Roe O'Neill, 
Aided by the Nuncio, Prepares to Fight 218 


The Famous Irish Victory of Benburb Cruel Murder of the Cath- 
olic Bishop of Ross 221 


Ormond's Treacherous Surrender of Dublin Ireland's Choice of 
Two Evils 226 


"The Curse of Cromwell" Massacres of Drogheda and Wexford 
Death of Sir Phelim O'Neill 230 


Sad Fate of the Vanquished Cruel Executions and Wholesale 
Confiscations 236 


Ireland Further Scourged Under Charles II Murder of Arch- 
bishop Plunket Accession of James II 240 

Contents vii 


Well Meant but Imprudent Policy of King James England In- 
vites William of Orange to Assume the Throne 245 


Irish Soldiers Ill-Treated in England Policy of Tyrconnel King 
James Chosen by the Irish Nation ..............._......... 253 


ERICK, IN 1690 259 


King James in Ireland Enthusiastic Reception of Him by the Irish 
People Military Operations 261 


Jacobites Foiled at Londonderry Mountcashel Defeated at New- 
town Butler King James's Irish Parliament 264 


King James's Imprudent Acts Witty Retort of a Protestant Peer 
Architectural Features of Dublin 268 


Composition of the Hostile Armies King William Arrives in Ire- 
land Narrowly Escapes Death on Eve of Battle 271 


Battle of the Boyne Death of Marshal Schomberg Valor of Irish 
Cavalry Inexcusable Flight of King James 277 


Irish Army Retires on "The Line of the Shannon" Douglas Re- 
pulsed at Athlone King William Begins Siege of Limerick 
Sarsfield's Exploit 286 


William's Assault on Limerick Repulsed with Slaughter Heroism 
of the Irish Women Irish Humanity to the English Wounded 294 

viii Contents 


Fall of Cork and Kinsale Lauzun, the French General, Accused by 
Irish Writers Sarsfield's Popularity Tyrconnel Returns to 
Ireland Berwick Departs 302 


AUGHRIM, IN JULY, 1691 311 


General St Ruth Arrives at Limerick to Command the Irish Army 
His Marvelous Activity Brave and Able, but Vain and 
Obstinate '. 313 


De Ginkel Besieges Athlone Memorable Resistance of the Irish 
Garrison The Battle at the Bridge St. Ruth's Fatuous Obsti- 
nacy Town Taken by Surprise 318 


The Irish Army Falls Back and Takes Post at Aughrim Descrip- 
tion of the Field Disposition of the Irish Forces Baal Dearg 
O'DonnelPs Apathy 326 


De Ginkel Marches After St. Ruth The Latter Prepares to "Con- 
quer or Die" His Speech to the Irish Army on the Eve of 
Fighting 332 


Decisive Battle of Aughrim It Opens Favorably for the Irish 
Desperate Fighting in the Centre and at Urachree Fortune or 
Treason Favors De Ginkel 336 


Battle of Aughrim Continued Its Crisis The English Turn Irish 
Left St. Ruth Killed by Cannon Ball Confusion and Final 
Defeat of Irish Army 342 


Mortality Among Officers of Rank on Both Sides Acknowledged 
English Loss at Aughrim English and Irish Comments on 
Conduct of Battle 35<> 

Contents ix 




Second Siege of Limerick Terrific Bombardment The English, 
Aided by Treachery, Cross the Shannon Massacre of Thomond 
Bridge 363 


Capitulation of Limerick Terms of the Famous "Violated Treaty" 
Cork Harbor Tragedy 371 


The Irish Troops, as a Majority, Enter the French Service King 
James Receives Them Cordially His Testimony of Their De- 
votion and Courage 383 


Early Exploits of the Irish Brigade in the Service of France At 
Landen, Cremona, and Blenheim Tribute Paid it by an En- 
glish Historian... , 388 


The Irish Brigade in the Campaigns of North Italy and Flanders 
Its Strength at Various Periods Count Dillon's Reply to King 
Louis XV 393 


The Austrian Succession Campaign of 1745 Magnificent Achieve- 
ment of the Irish Brigade at Fontenoy Prince Louis's Adieu 
to the Heroes 399 

SHIP OF GRATTAN, A.D, 1780 409 


Anti-Catholic Penal Laws Their Drastic, Brutal and Absurd Pro- 
visions Professional Informers, Called "Priest-Hunters" 411 

x Contents 


Restrictions on Irish Trade and Manufactures All Creeds Suffer 
Presbyterian Exodus to America Death of Royal Person- 
ages Accession of George 1 424 


Further Commercial Restrictions Continued Exodus of Working 
People Jonathan Swift "The Patriot Party" Tyranny of 
Primate Boulter 431 


Official Extravagance Charles Lucas, Leader of Irish Opposition 
Chesterfield Viceroy His Recall Dorset's Vile Administra- 
tion 439 


More Persecution of Catholics Under George II Secret Com- 
mittee Formed Snubbed by the Speaker Received by the 
Viceroy Anti-Union Riot in Dublin 447 


Accession of George III His Character Boasts of Being "a 
Briton" Death of Dr. Lucas Lord Townsend's Novel Idea 
of Governing Ireland Septennial Parliament Refused 452 


The Peace of Paris Agrarian Warfare in Ireland Judicial Mur- 
der of Father Sheehy All who Swore Against Him Die Violent 
Deaths Secret Societies 457 


Flood and Grattan Sudden Rise of the Latter Speaks for a Free 
Commerce The Volunteer Movement England Yields to Irish 
Demand , 42 




Prefatory Territorial Divisions of Ireland Physical Features of 
the Country Peculiarities of Soil, Climate, and Scenery 

HPHAT famous English Republican, Thomas Paine 
* whose political pamphlets have been admired quite 
as much as his theological works have been censured 
uttered in "Common. Sense," published in 1776, while he 
was serving under Washington in the Continental Army, 
this striking aphorism : "Europe, and not England, is the 
parent country of America." His object was to stimulate 
the patriotic pride of such American colonists and they 
were many as were not of English birth or descent, 
and to proclaim that the other great branches of the hu- 
man race, settled in America, must, of necessity, have a 
vital interest in the successful issue of the War for In- 
dependence. No other great country of the world has 
a population made up of so many divers "previous na- 
tionalities," all combined into one gigantic political whole, 
as the United States of America. Most of the notable 
nations of the Old World are here represented not by 
hundreds or thousands, but by millions of citizens, "racy 
of the soil," and proud to call themselves Americans. A 
French patriot once said, speaking in the Chamber of 
Deputies: "There is no French race. France is a grand 
political entity which all true Frenchmen, of whatever 
race, worship." This fine sentiment can be even more 


4 The People's History of Ireland 

logically applied to America and Americans, for both are 
still in the formative period. Several centuries hence, 
perhaps, a race of people distinctively American in all 
respects may occupy this country, but while the great 
stream of European immigration continues to flow to- 
ward the setting sun there can not exist such a racial con- 
dition in this Republic, except in those remote districts 
in which the immigrant rarely seeks a home. 

Most Americans have read something of the political 
misfortunes of Ireland, but very many among us have not 
made her history even a partial study, and have often 
taken their views of it, at second hand, from sources that 
could not fail to be partial and, therefore, prejudicial. 
We do not need to apologize for seeking to throw more 
light, in a simple yet comprehensive manner, on the his- 
tory of that beautiful island the blood of whose exiled 
children flows in the veins of not less than 20,000,000 of 
the American people. The Irish race owes much to 
America, and America, in turn, owes much to it. Truly 
has it been said of the American Irish that they were with 
the Republic at its birth, guarded its infancy, rejoiced 
in its growth and prosperity, and will endure with it 
until the end, which comes, in the fulness of time, to even 
the greatest among nations. Thomas Francis Meagher 
(Ma'her or Marr) the young Irish patriot and orator 
of 1848, and afterward a famous Union general of the 
Civil War in one of the brilliant speeches he delivered in 
this country, said: "When, in 1849, I was a political cap- 
tive on board an English battleship, I beheld, one bright 
morning, through the porthole of my cabin, while we 
were anchored in an Australian harbor, the Stars and 

The People's History of Ireland 5 

Stripes floating from the mast of a stately American 
frigate and hailed Liberty at my prison-gate !" And this 
is the sentiment of every honest immigrant who seeks the 
shelter of our flag. 

Ireland, called poetically, because of its perennial ver- 
dure, the Emerald Isle, lies in the Atlantic Ocean, imme- 
diately westward of the larger island of Great Britain, 
from which it is separated by, in most parts, a wide and 
deep strait, varying in width from 14 miles, where 
the headlands of Antrim approach the western coast of 
Scotland, to about 125 miles, which is the maximum dis- 
tance from the coast of England. This strait is called, 
running from north to south consecutively, the North 
Channel, the Irish Sea, and St. George's Channel. The 
high shore of Scotland is always visible, in clear weather, 
from the northeast coast of Ireland, and the mountains of 
Wales, about 65 miles distant, may be seen, under similar 
conditions, from Bray Head and other points on the Lein- 
ster coast, but no part of England can be seen at any time 
from the Irish shore. Ireland, considered geographically, 
is of an irregular rhomboidal shape, by some writers com- 
pared to an oblong shield, and is situated between Lati- 
tude 51, 26' and 55 21' North, and Longitude 5 21' 
and 10 26' West, projecting farther into the Atlantic 
Ocean, to the westward, than any other portion of Euro- 
pean soil. Its total area, including many small islands 
close to the coast, is about 32,500 square miles, or 19,000 
less than England, 2,000 more than Scotland, 25,000 
more than Wales, and nearly 2,000 less than our inland 
State of Indiana. Ireland would make, almost to a frac- 
tion, thirty-two States the size of Rhode Island, which 

6 The People's History of Ireland 

has a Legislature of its own a privilege the Green Isle 
does not, at present, enjoy. 

The island is divided into four provinces in ancient 
times it had five; namely, Leinster in the east, Ulster in 
the north, Connaught in the west, and Munster in the 
south. These are, again, divided into two-and-thirty 
counties a system of Anglo-Norman, or English, inven- 
tion, and, according to the learned Doctor Joyce, savant 
and historian, they generally represent the older native 
territories and sub-kingdoms. King John, "Lord" of 
Ireland, formed twelve of them in the twelfth century 
Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Uriel (or Louth), Carlow, Kil- 
kenny, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and 
Tipperary. Henry VIII divided Meath proper into two 
counties and called one Westmeath. King's and Queen's 
Counties were formed in the reign of Mary I, who mar- 
ried Philip II of Spain, out of the old districts of Leix 
and Offaly. Hence their capitals are called, respectively, 
Philipstown and Maryborough. The county Longford 
was formed out of the territory of Annaly, by Deputy 
Sir Henry Sydney, about 1565. The same official di- 
vided Connaught into six counties Gal'way, Mayo, Sligo, 
Roscommon, Leitrim, and Clare. The latter county, al- 
though situated on the Connaught bank of the river Shan- 
non, was subsequently given to Munster, because it had 
formed a part of that province in ancient times. Antrim 
and Down were organized into counties early in the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth, and Lord Deputy Perrot, about 
1584, formed seven others out of Ulster; namely, Ar- 
magh, Monaghan, Tyrone, Coleraine (now Derry), Don- 
egal, Fermanagh, and Cavan. Dublin County, at first, 

The People's History of Ireland 7 


included Wicklow, but, in 1605, during the reign of 
James I, Sir Arthur Chichester made the latter a sepa- 
rate county. 

The existing division of the counties among the prov- 
inces is as follows : Munster comprises Clare, Cork, Kerry, 
Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford; Ulster contains 
Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, 
Deny, Monaghan, and Tyrone; Connaught has Galway, 
Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo; Leinster com- 
prises Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, King's County, 
Longford, Louth, Meath, Queen's County, Westmeath, 
Wexford, and Wicklow. 

The reader ought to know, however, that a majority 
of the Ulster and Connaught counties, and some in Lein- 
ster and Munster, did not recognize their English desig- 
nations, or yield to English law, in any shape, until after 
the accession of James I to the British throne, in 1603. 
They were governed by their own princes, chiefs, and 
judges, under the old Brehon law, until "the Peace of 
Mellifont" in that year. 

While the Irish counties differ very materially in ex- 
tent, the provinces show the following proportions : Mun- 
ster, 6,064,579 acres; Ulster, 5,475,458; Leinster, 4,871,- 
118; Connaught, 4,392,043. The island is further sub- 
divided into 316 baronies, 2,532 parishes, and 60,760 
townlands, which average about 300 acres each. These 
are figures with which every student of Irish history 
should be familiar. 

The country is, in general, very fertile, and grows 
cereals luxuriantly. The green crops, such as turnips, 
parsnips, cabbages, and kindred vegetables, are unex- 

8 The People's History of Ireland 

celled. Its grazing capacity is very great, and Irish 
horses, horned cattle, sheep, and swine are among the 
choicest in Europe. Apples, pears, plums, and the smaller 
fruits grow abundantly in the mild, moist climate, but the 
Irish sun will not ripen peaches, grapes, or tomatoes, un- 
less they are under glass. Poultry thrive wondrously, 
and there is a large exportation of fowl and eggs to the 
British markets. Irish butter ranks high also. Yet the 
country is poor, chiefly because of the scarcity of manu- 
factures, and for other reasons that will be explained as 
we proceed. 

The Irish climate is equable, but, in general, damp, 
when compared with that of America. Neither summer 
heat nor winter cold produces discomfort, except at very 
rare intervals. Violent storms are infrequent, except 
along the western coast, and electrical disturbances are 
much rarer than in our atmosphere. Only one cyclonic 
storm, that of January 6, 1839, visited Ireland during the 
nineteenth century, and it is known to this day as "the Big 

Irish scenery is peculiar in character soft, yet bold of 
outline, as regards its mountain regions. The cliffs on 
the Connaught, Ulster, and Munster coasts are tall and 
beetling those of Moher, in Clare, and those that flank 
the Giants' Causeway a remarkable basaltic formation 
in Antrim being the most notable. All the elevations 
that rise above a thousand feet are clothed with the 
heather, which is also peculiar to Scotland, and this 
plant changes its hue with every season so that 
there is a constant shifting of color, which adds much 
to the charm of the landscape. The Irish sky, too, 

The People's History of Ireland 9 

is changeful, so much so that an Irish poet, in paying 
tribute to the beauty of his wife, wrote: 

"Eyes like the skies of dear Erin, our mother, 
Where shadow and sunshine are chasing each other!" 

Snow generally disappears from the summits of the Irish 
mountains about the second week of May. The mildness 
of the climate in a latitude so far toward the north is due 
to the powerful influence of the warm Gulf Stream, and 
this also explains the verdure of the country at almost 
all periods of the year. A striking characteristic of the 
Irish mountains is that they, in general, rise abruptly 
from the plain, which gives them an appearance of greater 
altitude than they really possess ; the highest peak in the 
island that of Carn Tual in Kerry being only a trifle 
over 3,400 feet. There is still another peculiarity of the 
Irish mountain system which strikes all tourists the 
highland chains, for the most part, rise near the coast, 
and follow its course, thus making it one of the boldest 
and grandest in Europe, while some detached groups, 
such as the Galtee and Slieve Bloom ranges in Munster 
and Leinster, the Curlews in Connaught and Slieve Snacht 
(Snowy range) in Ulster, seem to be independent forma- 

The Irish lakes are numerous and, in general, pictu- 
resque. Lough Neagh (Nay) in the north, Lough Corrib 
in the west, and Lough Dearg an expanse of the Shan- 
non are the largest, but the most famed for scenery 
are those of Killarney in Kerry, Lough Dan in Wick- 
low, and Lough Gill in Sligo. The Irish rivers are 
many, and, in the main, beautiful streams. The Shannon 

io The People's History of Ireland 

is the greatest river in the realm of Great Britain and Ire- 
land, while the Suir, the Barrow, the Nore, the Slaney, 
the Corrib, the Erne, the Foyle, the Boyne, and the Liffey 
are also considerable rivers and possess enough water- 
power, were it scientifically utilized, to turn the wheels 
of the world's machinery. The Munster Blackwater, 
celebrated, like its sister river, the Suir, in the charming 
poetry of Edmund Spenser, is called, because of its pe- 
culiar loveliness, "the Irish Rhine." After a winding and 
picturesque course through the south of Munster, it falls 
into the ocean at Youghal a town of which the famous 
Sir Walter Raleigh, of Queen Elizabeth's Court, was 
once mayor. 

One-seventh of the surface of Ireland is computed to 
be under bogs semi-spongy formations, claimed by some 
naturalists to be the decomposed relics of mighty forests 
with which Ireland was covered in remote ages. The 
aspect of these "moors," as they are called by the British, 
is dreary enough in winter, but at other periods they have 
their charms; the heather and mosses with which they 
are, in many places, thickly clothed, changing hue, as 
on the mountains, with every season. Nearly all of these 
bogs are capable of being reclaimed for agricultural uses, 
but the people do not desire their reclamation, for the 
reason that they furnish cheap fuel to most of the rural 
districts, where there is neither coal nor timber supply. 
Owing to the mildness of the climate, the cut and dried 
sods of "peat," called "turf," which resemble brown 
bricks, take the place of coal and wood, and make quite 
a comfortable fire. "Stone turf," produced by artificial 
pressure, and an extra drying process, makes almost as 

The People's History of Ireland n 

hot a fire as anthracite, but is much dearer than the ordi- 
nary article, which is softer and lighter. Indeed, the 
common Irish turf would be almost useless in our fierce 
winter weather. These fuel "reservoirs" can not be ex- 
hausted for ages to come. It is claimed that, by some 
mysterious process of nature, they renew themselves from 
time to time, after they have been "given a rest" by the 
turf-cutters. Many large bogs occupy the summits and 
sides of the mountains, and seem to be of the same char- 
acter as those on the level land. Occasionally the high 
morasses shift their positions, like glaciers, only with 
a much quicker movement, and overwhelm, like the 
avalanche, everything in their path. These are called 
"the moving bogs." The last phenomenon of the kind 
occurred in the County Kerry a few years ago, when 
much property was destroyed and several lives were lost. 
Scientists claim that these bogs are undermined by bodies 
of water, which, when flooded, lift the crust and carry 
it with them, in their effort to find their natural level. 
It is well known in Ireland that several small, but deep, 
lakes now occupy places that were formerly covered by 
these strange formations. We will devote a separate 
chapter to other features of this interesting country. 

12 The People's History of Ireland 


Further of the Characteristics and Resources of the Island Present 
Form of Government 

OLD, silver, copper, lead, iron, and other malleable 
minerals are found in Ireland. The gold is dis- 
covered in small quantities, at least in modern times, 
but the beautiful ornaments, composed of that precious 
metal, and much used by the ancient Irish nobility, pre- 
served in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Dub- 
lin, and elsewhere in Ireland and Great Britain, would 
indicate that it was at one time plentiful in the island. 
Silver is found in paying quantities in several districts, 
and silver mines are now in operation in the northern 
portion of Munster. The lead, copper, and iron de- 
posits have never been seriously worked, and, therefore, 
it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory estimate of 
their extent. Coal is found in many counties, but the 
most extensive fields are in Ulster. Much light is thrown 
on this subject by Kane's "Resources of Ireland," which 
can be found, most likely, in the public libraries. It gives 
most interesting statistics, but they would be far too 
heavy for our more condensed narrative. 

Ireland possesses over seventy harbors. Fourteen are 
of the first class and can shelter the very largest sea- 
going vessels, whether naval or mercantile. Unhappily, 
excepting those of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast, 
they are comparatively little used for commerce, for 

The People's History of Ireland 13 

reasons that will present themselves in succeeding 

Although in olden times a thickly wooded country, 
Ireland of to-day is rather bare of forests. There are 
numerous luxuriant groves and woodlands, and many of 
the highroads are bordered with stately trees. The "quick- 
set hedges," planted with thorn shrubs, give, particularly 
in summer, a well-furnished appearance to the country, 
except in a few rather barren districts, where stone walls, 
as in portions of New England, are quite common. Irish 
farms are nearly all divided and subdivided by these for- 
midable fences, quick-set or stone, so that, when viewed 
from any considerable height, the surrounding country 
looks like a huge, irregular checker-board a much more 
picturesque arrangement of the landscape than our Amer- 
ican barbed-wire obstructions, but at the cost of a vast 
amount of good land, in the aggregate. 

The island contains many populous, finely built cities, 
well governed under local municipal rule. Dublin, the 
capital, contains, including suburbs, about 300,000 people, 
and is considered a very handsome metropolis. It is 
surrounded by enchanting hamlets, and the sea-bathing 
resorts in the neighborhood are delightful. Belfast, the 
great commercial city of Ulster, is almost as populous 
as Dublin, and has many of the thrifty characteristics 
of an American municipality. Cork, Waterford, Lim- 
erick, Galway, Sligo, Londonderry, and Drogheda are 
still places of much importance, although some of them 
have greatly declined, both in wealth and population, 
during the last century. 

Owing to persistent agitation, and some fierce upris- 

14 The People's History of Ireland 

ings, which caused the imperial government to listen 
to the voice of reason, the social and political conditions 
of the Irish people have been somewhat improved of 
late years. The Irish Church was disestablished by the 
Gladstone Ministry, in 1869, and, under the leadership 
of Isaac Butt, Parnell, Davitt, and other Irish patriots, 
Protestant as well as Catholic, the harsh land laws have 
been greatly modified, and the Irish people have a better 
"hold on their soil," and are much less subject to the 
capricious will of their landlords than formerly. They 
are, also, much better lodged and fed than in the last 
generation, and education, of a practical kind, has be- 
come almost universal. The national school system has 
many features in common with our own, and is improv- 
ing year by year. In the higher branches of education, 
Ireland is well supplied. Trinity College, Dublin, the 
Alma Mater of many celebrated men, has existed since 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but, until the end of the 
eighteenth century, was not open to Catholics. May- 
nooth College, in Kildare, is the great Catholic ecclesias- 
tical seminary of Ireland, and there is also a Catholic 
university in Dublin. Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, and 
other cities have Catholic colleges, and there are Prot- 
estant seats of learning in Ulster and other provinces. 
Cork, Belfast, and Galway have each branch universi- 
ties, called "Queen's Colleges," which are conducted on 
a non-sectarian basis. These are only a few of Ireland's 
educational institutions, but they serve to illustrate the 
agreeable fact that a dearth of opportunity for acquiring 
learning is no longer a reproach to the Irish people, or, 
rather, to their English law-makers. The taxes which sup- 

The People's History of Ireland 15 

port the institutions maintained by Government are paid by 
Ireland into the Imperial Treasury, so that Great Britain 
is not burdened by them, as many suppose. Recently, 
a commission appointed by the British Parliament to in- 
quire into the financial relations between Great Britain 
and Ireland reported back that the latter country was 
overtaxed annually to the amount of $15,000,000. This 
grievance, although complained of by all classes, has not 
yet been redressed. Dublin, Belfast, and other leading 
Irish cities possess very choice and extensive libraries. 
That of Trinity College, in the first-mentioned city, is 
considered one of the best in Europe, and it is particu- 
larly rich in ancient Irish manuscripts, some of which 
have been translated from the original Gaelic into En- 
glish by the late Dr. John O'Donovan, Professor Eugene 
O'Curry, and other Irish savants. There are many large 
circulating libraries in all the principal municipalities, 
and most of the smaller towns. These are patronized, 
in the main, by poor people of literary taste, who can 
not afford satisfactory libraries of their own. There is 
now a revival of Irish literature in Great Britain as well 
as in Ireland itself. Many English and Scotch firms 
have taken to printing Irish prose and poetry in the 
English tongue, so that Irish authors are no longer con- 
fined, as they were, with a few exceptions, of old, to 
an insular constituency. Irish literary work of merit, 
when not strongly patriotic, sells readily in Great Britain 
to-day. This is due, partly, to a growing apprecia- 
tion of Irish talent among the more liberal classes of the 
English people, and still more, perhaps, to the very large 
Irish population that has developed itself on the soil of 

Ireland 2 Vol. L 

1 6 The People's History of Ireland 

"the predominant partner" within the last half of the 
nineteenth century. There is a strong Chartist, or re- 
publican, element in England friendly to the Irish claim 
of legislative independence, and this element, which we 
hear comparatively little of in America, for reasons it 
is not necessary to discuss in this history, is growing 
more powerful as time rolls by, and some day, not very 
distant, perhaps, is bound to greatly modify the existing 
governmental system of the British Empire, and render it 
more popular. 

Ireland is very rich in monastic and martial ruins. 
The round towers which sentinel the island are declared 
by many antiquaries to antedate the Christian period, 
and are supposed to have been pagan temples dedicated 
to the worship of the sun, which, some historians claim, 
was Ireland's chief form of the Druidic belief. 

"The names of their founders have vanished in the gloom, 
Like the dry branch in the fire, or the body in the tomb, 
But to-day, in the ray, their shadows stiM they cast 
These temples of forgotten gods, these relics of the past." 

The grass-grown circular raths, or "forts," as the peas- 
antry call them, varying greatly in diameter, are supposed 
to be remnants of the Danish invasion, but many archae- 
ologists place them at a much earlier date, and give them 
not a Danish but a Danaan origin the latter tribe being 
claimed as among the first settlers of Ireland. The lar- 
gest "fort" or "dun" in the island is that near Down- 
patrick, which is sixty feet high and three-quarters of 
a mile in circumference. Much of the stately architec- 
ture seen in the ruins of abbeys, churches, and chapels 
belongs to the Anglo-Norman period, as does also the 

The People's History of Ireland 17 

military architecture, which survives in such types as 
the keeps of Limerick, Nenagh, and Trim; but the Cel- 
tic type of church construction is preserved, after the 
lapse of more than a thousand years, in its primitive 
purity, at Glendalough in Wicklow, Clonmacnois in 
King's County, and Cong in Gal way. 

Three hundred years of warfare with the pagan Danes, 
and five hundred with the Anglo-Normans and Anglo- 
Saxons, made Ireland the Island of Ruins, as well as the 
Island of Saints and Scholars. 

Before January i, 1801, Ireland was a distinct and 
separate kingdom, having a Parliament of her own and 
connected with Great Britain by what has been called 
"the golden link of the crown." How that Parliament 
was, unfortunately for all concerned, abolished will ap- 
pear in its proper order. Since 1801 Ireland has been 
governed by the Imperial Parliament, sitting in London, 
composed of representatives from England, Scotland, 
Ireland, and Wales 670 in all, of whom 103 are Irish 
members. Of these latter, 82 are Nationalists, or Re- 
pealers of the Act of Union, while 21 are Unionists, or 
adherents of the present political connection. The pre- 
ponderating vote of Great Britain hopelessly overwhelms 
the Irish representation, and hence the work of reform, 
as far as Ireland is concerned, is slow and difficult. The 
executive functions are intrusted to a Lord Lieutenant, 
who is appointed by each succeeding Ministry, to repre- 
sent the monarch of Great Britain. He is assisted in his 
duties by a Chief Secretary, two Under Secretaries, a 
Lord Chancellor, a Lord Chief Justice, a Master of the 
Rolls, a Chief Baron of the Exchequer, many less promi- 

1 8 The People's History of Ireland 

nent officers, and a Privy Council, which comprises sev- 
eral of the officials mentioned, together with the leading 
supporters of the crown in the capital and throughout 
the country. Some of the official members of this Council 
are not natives of Ireland ; and the Lord Lieutenant him- 
self is almost invariably an English or Scotch aristocrat 
of high rank and liberal fortune. No Catholic can fill the 
office of Viceroy of Ireland. The authority of the latter 
is, to all intents and purposes, absolute. In seasons of 
political agitation, even when there is no violence, he can 
suspend the ordinary law without having recourse to Par- 
liament. This power has been frequently exercised even 
in this generation. The Lord Lieutenant's official resi- 
dence is Dublin Castle, but he has also a commodious 
viceregal lodge in the Phcenix Park. His salary is $100,- 
ooo per annum just twice that of our President but, 
in general, he spends much more out of his private for- 
tune, as he is, nearly always, chosen for his wealth as 
much as for his rank. When he goes among the peo- 
ple, he is, almost invariably, attended by a strong cavalry 
escort and a dashing staff of aides-de-camp, glittering 
in silver, steel, and gold. The military garrison of Dub- 
lin is strong, not often under 10,000 men, and at the 
Curragh Camp, about twenty miles distant, in Kildare, 
there is a much larger force. Most of the large towns 
are also heavily garrisoned. Thus, after an occupation, 
either nominal or actual, of seven and one-third centuries, 
England still finds it expedient to govern Ireland as a 
military district a sad commentary on the chronic mis- 
government of ages. 

The People's History of Ireland 19 

The Original Inhabitants of Ireland 

VAGUE poetical tradition flings a mystical veil over 
the origin of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland. 
The historian, McGee, who would seem to have made a 
serious study of the subject, says that the first account 
given by the bards and the professional story-tellers at- 
tributes the settlement of the island to Parthalon of the 
race of Japhet, who, with a number of followers, reached 
it by way of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, "about 
three hundred years after the Universal Deluge." The 
colonists, because of the unnatural crimes of their leader, 
were, we are told, "cut off to the last man by a dreadful 

The second colony, also a creature of tradition, was 
said to have been led by a chief called Nemedh from the 
shores of the Black Sea across Muscovy to the Baltic, 
and from that sea they made their way to the Irish 
shore. In Ireland, they encountered a stronger race, said 
to have been of African origin, called Formorians, with 
whom they had many severe battles and were by them 
finally defeated and either killed or driven from the 
country, to which some of their descendants returned in 
after years. 

After Nemedh came the Firbolgs, or Belgse, under the 
five sons of their king, Dela, who divided the island into 
five parts and held it undisputedly until the Tuatha de 

2O The People's History of Ireland 

Danaans, said to be descended from Nemedh, and having 
magical power to quell storms, invaded the island, carry- 
ing with them the "lia fail," or "Stone of Destiny," from 
which Ireland derived its fanciful title of "Innis fail," or 
the "Island of Destiny." The Danaans are said to have 
been of the Greek family. In any case, it is claimed, they 
subdued the Belgae and made them their serfs. They 
ruled mightily, for a time, but, in turn, were compelled 
to give way to a stronger tide of invasion. 

This was formed by a people who called themselves, 
according to most Irish annalists, Gaels, from an ancient 
ancestor; Milesians, from the appellation of their king, 
who ruled in distant Spain, and Scoti, or Scots, from 
Scota, the warlike mother of King Milesius. These 
Milesians are said to have come into Spain from the re- 
gion of the Caucasus, and all agree that they were formi- 
dable warriors. Tradition says that Ireland was first 
discovered, as far as the Milesians were concerned, by 
Ith, uncle of the Spanish king, who, while on a voyage 
of exploration, sighted the island, and, attracted by its 
beauty, landed, but was attacked by the Danaans and 
mortally wounded. His followers carried him to his 
galley, and he died at sea, but the body was brought 
back to Spain. His son, Loci, who had accompanied Ith, 
summoned all the Milesian family to avenge their kins- 
man's death and conquer the Promised Island of their 
race. Milesius, or Miledh, had expired before Loci's re- 
turn, but his sons, Heber the Fair, Amergin, Heber the 
Brown, Colpa, Ir, and Heremon rallied to, the call of 
vengeance and conquest, set sail for Ireland, landed there, 
and, in spite of Danaan witchcraft and Firbolgian valor, 
beat down all opposition and became masters of the 

The People's History of Ireland 21 

beautiful island. Thomas Moore, in his immortal Irish 
Melodies, thus deals with this legendary event : 

"They came from a land beyond the sea, 

And now o'er the Western main, 
Set sail in their good ships gallantly 

From the sunny land of Spain. 
'Oh, where's the isle we've seen in dreams, 

Our destined home or grave?' 
Thus sang they as, by the morning's beami, 

They swept the Atlantic wave. 

"And, lo, where afar o'er ocean shines 

A sparkle of radiant green, 

As though in that deep lay emerald mines 
Whose light through the wave was seen. 
' 'Tis Innisfail ! 'tis Innisfail !' 
Rings o'er the echoing sea, 
While bending to heaven the warriors hail 
That home of the brave and free. 

"Then turned they unto the Eastern wave, 

Where now their Day-God's eye 
A look of such sunny omen gave 

As lighted up sea and sky, 
Nor frown was seen through sky or sea, 

Nor tear on leaf or sod, 
When first on their Isle of Destiny 

Our great forefathers trod." 

The migration of those Celto-Iberians to Ireland is 
generally placed at from 1500 to 2000 years before the 
birth of Christ ; but there is not much certainty about the 
date; it stands wholly on tradition. On one point, at 
least, a majority of Irish annalists seem to be agreed 
namely, that the Milesians were of Celtic stock and_ Scyth- 
ian origin, but the route they took from Scythia to Spain, 
as well as the date of their exodus, remains an unde- 
termined question. Celtic characteristics, both mental 
and physical, are still deeply stamped on the Irish peo- 

22 The People's History of Ireland 

pie, notwithstanding the large admixture of the blood of 
other races, resulting from the numerous after invasions, 
both pagan and Christian. Thomas Davis, the leading 
Irish national poet of the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, sums up the elements that constitute the present 
Irish population, truly and tersely, thus : 

"Here came the brown Phoenician, 

The man of trade and toil; 
Here came the proud Milesian 

A-hungering for spoil ; 
And the Firbolg, and the Kymry, 

And the hard, enduring Dane, 
And the iron lords of Normandy, 

With the Saxons in their train. 

And, oh, it were a gallant deed 

To show before mankind, 
How every race, and every creed, 

Might be by love combined; 
Might be combined, yet not forget 

The fountains whence they rose, 
As filled by many a rivulet 

The stately Shannon flows!" 

And the fine verses of the Irish poet may be applied 
with almost equal propriety to the cosmopolitan popu- 
lation of the United States more varied in race than 
even that of Ireland. No good citizen is less of an 
American simply because he scorns to forget, or to al- 
low his children to forget, "the fountains whence they 
rose." Anglo-Americans never forget it, nor do Franco- 
Americans, or Americans of Teutonic origin ; or, in fact, 
Americans of any noted race. Americans of Irish birth 
or origin have quite as good a right to be proud of their 
cradle-land and their ancient ancestry as any other ele- 
ment in this Republic; and the study of impartial Irish 

The People's History of Ireland 23 

history by pupils of all races would do much to soften 
prejudices and remove unpleasant impressions that slan- 
derous, partial historians have been mainly instrumental 
in creating. 

The language Gaelic, or Erse, as it is called in our 
day spoken by the Milesian conquerors of Ireland so 
many thousand years ago, is not yet nearly extinct on 
Irish soil; and it is often used by Irish emigrants in va- 
rious parts of the world. More than thirty centuries 
have faded into eternity since first its soft, yet powerful, 
accents were heard on Ireland's shore, but still nearly a 
million people out of four and a half millions speak it, and 
hundreds of thousands have more or less knowledge of 
the venerable tongue in its written form. Great efforts 
have been put forth of late years to promote its propaga- 
tion throughout the island, and it is a labor of love in 
which all classes, creeds, and parties in Ireland cordially 
work together. It is not intended, of course, to supplant 
the English language, but to render Gaelic co-equal with 
it, as in Wales a thoroughly Celtic country, in which the 
native language Kymric has been wondrously revived 
during the past and present century. 

24 The People's History of Ireland 


The Religion of Ancient Ireland Many Writers say it was Worship 
of the Sun, Moon, and Elements 

WE have mentioned that sun-worship was one of the 
forms of ancient Irish paganism. There is much 
difference of opinion on this point, and the late learned 
Gaelic expert, Professor Eugene O'Curry, holds that 
there is no reliable proof of either sun-worship or fire- 
worship in antique Irish annals. On the other hand, 
we have the excellent historian, Abbe McGeoghegan, 
chaplain of the famous Franco-Irish Brigade of the sev- 
enteenth and eighteenth centuries, supported by other 
authorities, instancing the sun as, at least, one of the ob- 
jects of Irish pagan adoration. Other writers, including 
the painstaking McGee, seem to accept the startling as- 
sertion that human victims were occasionally sacrificed 
on the pagan altars. This, however, is open to doubt, 
as the Irish people, however intense in their religious con- 
victions, have never been deliberately cruel or murder- 
ously fanatical. We quote on these sensitive subjects 
particularly sensitive where churchmen are concerned 
from McGeoghegan and McGee, both strong, yet liberal, 
Catholic historians. On page 63 of his elaborate and ad- 
mirable "History of Ireland," McGeoghegan remarks: 
"Great honors were paid to the Druids and Bards among 
the Milesians, as well as to those among the Britons and 
Gauls. The first, called Draoi in their language, per- 
formed the duties of priest, philosopher, legislator, and 

The People's History of Ireland 25 

judge. Caesar has given, in his Commentaries, a well- 
detailed account of the order, office, jurisdiction, and 
doctrine of the Druids among the Gauls. As priests, 
they regulated religion and its worship ; according to their 
will, the objects of it were determined, and the 'divinity' 
often changed ; to them, likewise, the education of youth 
was intrusted. Guided by the Druids, the Milesians 
generally adored Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Apollo, the sun, 
moon, and wind; they had also their mountain, forest, 
and river gods. These divinities were common to them 
and to other nations of the world. . . . According to 
the Annals of Ulster, cited by Ware, the antiquarian, the 
usual oath of Laegore (Leary) II, King of Ireland, in 
the time of St. Patrick, was by the sun and wind." 

McGee, writing of the same subject, on pages 5 and 9 of 
his "Popular History of Ireland," says : "The chief officers 
about the kings, in the first ages, were all filled by the 
Druids or pagan priests; the Brehons,or judges, were usu- 
ally Druids, as were also the Bards, the historians of their 
patrons. Then came the Physicians, the Chiefs who paid 
tribute to or received annual gifts from the sovereign, the 
royal Stewards, and the military leaders, or Champions. 
. . . Their religion in pagan times was what the moderns 
call Druidism, but what they called it themselves we 
now know not. It was probably the same religion an- 
ciently professed by Tyre and Sidon, by Carthage and 
her colonies in Spain; the same religion which the Ro- 
mans have described as existing in great part of Gaul, 
and, by their accounts, we learn the awful fact that it 
sanctioned, nay, demanded, human sacrifices. From the 
few traces of its doctrines which Christian zeal has per- 
mitted to survive in the old Irish language, we see that 

26 The People's History of Ireland 

Belus or Crom, the god of fire, typified by the sun, was 
its chief divinity that two great festivals were held in 
his honor on days answering to the first of May and last 
of October. There were also particular gods of poets, 
champions, artificers, and mariners, just as among the 
Romans and Greeks. Sacred groves were dedicated to 
these gods; priests and priestesses devoted their lives to 
their service; the arms of the champion and the person 
of the king were charmed by them ; neither peace nor war 
was made without their sanction; their own persons and 
their pupils were held sacred ; the high place at the king's 
right hand and the best fruits of the earth and the water 
were theirs. Old age revered them, women worshiped 
them, warriors paid court to them, youth trembled before 
them, princes and chiefs regarded them as elder brethren. 
So numerous were they in Erin, and so celebrated, that 
the altars of Britain and Western Gaul, left desolate by 
the Roman legions, were often served by hierophants 
from Ireland, which, even in those pagan days, was 
known to all the Druidic countries as the Sacred Island." 
The two greatest battles fought in Ireland during the 
early Milesian period were that near Tralee, in Kerry, 
where the Milesian queen-mother, Scota, perished, and 
the conflict at Taltean, in Meath, where the three Danaan 
kings, with their wives and warriors, were slain. After 
these events, Heber and Heremon divided Ireland be- 
tween them, but eventually quarreled. A battle ensued, 
in which Heber fell, and Heremon was thereafter, for 
many years, undisputed monarch of all Ireland. A large 
majority of the Celtic families of the island are descended 
from the two royal brothers and bitter rivals. Their 
most famous Milesian successors in pagan times were 

The People's History of Ireland 27 

Tuathal (Too-hal), the Legitimate, who formed the royal 
province of Meath, which existed for many ages, and is 
now represented, but on a much smaller scale, by the 
modern counties of Meath and Westmeath. The prov- 
ince itself was dismembered centuries ago, and, since 
then, Ireland has had but four provincial divisions instead 
of five. Tuathal is also credited with having originated 
the Borumah (Boru) or "Cow Tribute," which he im- 
posed on Leinster as a penalty for a crime committed 
against two of his daughters by the king of that prov- 
ince. This tribute was foredoomed to be a curse to 
the Irish nation at large, and its forceful imposition by 
successive Ard-Righs caused torrents of blood to be shed. 
It was abolished toward the end of the seventh century 
by the Christian king . of all Ireland, Finacta II, sur- 
named the Hospitable. "Conn of the Hundred Battles" 
made a record as a ruler and a warrior. Cormac Mac- 
Art, because of his great wisdom, was called the Ly- 
curgus of Ireland. Niall of the Nine Hostages an- 
cestor of the O'Neills was a formidable monarch, who 
carried the terror of his arms far beyond the seas of 
Ireland. His nephew, King Dathi (Dahy) was also a 
royal rover, and, while making war in northern Italy, 
was killed by a thunderbolt in an alpine pass. Dathi 
was the last king of pagan Ireland, but not the last pa- 
gan king. His successor, Leary, son of the great Niall, 
received and protected St. Patrick, but never became 
a Christian. After Leary's death, no pagan monarch 
sat on the Irish throne. 

Ancient Ireland was known by several names. The 
Greeks called it lernis and lerni; said to have meant 
"Sacred Isle"; the Romans Hibernia, the derivation and 

28 The People's History of Ireland 

meaning, of which are involved in doubt, and the Mile- 
sians Innisfail, said to mean "the Island of Destiny," 
and Eire, or Erinn, now generally spelled Erin, said to 
Signify "the Land of the West." Many learned writers 
dispute these translations, while others support them. 
Within the last six centuries, the island has been known 
as Ireland, said to signify West, or Western, land, but, 
as the savants differ about this translation also, we will 
refrain from positive assertion. 

The Roman legions never trod on Irish soil, although 
they conquered and occupied the neighboring island of 
Britain, except on the extreme north, during four hun- 
dred years. Why the Romans did not attempt the con- 
quest of the island is a mystery. That they were able 
to conquer it can hardly be doubted. Strange as the 
statement may seem to some, it was unfortunate for Ire- 
land that the Romans did not invade and subdue it. 
Had they landed and prevailed, their great governing 
and organizing genius would have destroyed the disin- 
tegrating Gaelic tribal system, which ultimately proved 
the curse and bane of the Irish people. They would also 
have trained a nation naturally warlike in the art of 
arms, in which the Romans had no superiors and few 
peers. With Roman training in war and government, 
the Irish would have become invincible on their own 
soil, after the inevitable withdrawal of the Legions from 
the island, and the Anglo-Normans, centuries afterward, 
could not have achieved even their partial subjection. 

The People's History of Ireland 29 

Advent of St. Patrick His Wonderful Apostolic Career in Ireland 
A Captive and a Swineherd for Years, he Escapes and be- 
comes the Regenerator of the Irish Nation 

A MAJORITY of learned historians claim that Chris- 
tianity was introduced into Ireland by Catholic 
missionaries from the continent of Europe long before 
the advent of the accepted national apostle, St. Patrick, 
who, in his boyhood, was captured on the northern coast 
of Ireland, while engaged in a predatory expedition with 
the Gauls, or some other foreign adventurers. In re- 
gard to this period of the future apostle's career, we 
are mainly guided by tradition, as the saint left no me- 
moirs that would throw light on his first Irish experience. 
Such expeditions were not uncommon in the age in which 
he lived, nor were they for ages that followed. It seems 
certain that his captors offered him no bodily harm, and 
he was sent to herd swine amid the hills of Down. This 
inspired boy, destined to be one of the greatest among 
men and the saints of God, remained a prisoner in the 
hands of the pagan Irish whom he found to be a gen- 
erous, and naturally devotional, people for many years, 
and thus acquired a thorough knowledge of their laws, 
language, and character. Whether he was finally re- 
leased by them, or managed to escape, is a question of 
some dispute, but it is certain that he made his way back 
to Gaul now known as France which, according to 
many accounts, was his native land, although Scotland 

30 The People's History of Ireland 

claims him also, and thence proceeded to Rome, where, 
having been ordained a priest, he obtained audience of 
Pope Celestine, and was by him encouraged and com- 
missioned to convert the distant Irish nation to Chris- 
tianity. Filled with a holy zeal, Patrick repaired as rap- 
idly as possible to his field of labor, and, after suffering 
many checks and rude repulses, at last, about the year 
432, found himself back in Ulster, where he fearlessly 
preached the Gospel to those among whom he had for- 
merly lived as a serf, with miraculous success. After- 
ward, he proceeded to the royal province of Meath, and 
on the storied hill of Slane, "over against" that of Tara, 
where the Irish monarch, Leary, was holding court, 
lighted the sacred fire in defiance of the edict of the 
Druid high-priest, who worshiped the fires of Baal and 
forbade all others to be kindled, and, by its quenchless 
flame, flung the sacred symbol of the Cross against the 
midnight skies of pagan Ireland. The pagan king sum- 
moned the daring apostle to his presence, and asked him 
concerning his sacred mission. Patrick explained it, and, 
having obtained the royal consent, proceeded to preach 
with an eloquence that dazzled king, princes, chiefs, and 
warriors. He even captivated some of the Druid priests, 
but the high-priest, who dreaded the apostle's power of 
words, would have stopped him at the outset, had not 
King Leary extended to him his favor and protection, 
although he himself remained a pagan to the end of his 
life. The saint, having made a deep impression and con- 
verted many of high and low degree, took to baptizing 
the multitude, and tradition says that the beautiful river 
Boyne was the Jordan of Ireland's great apostle. It 
was while preaching at Tara that St. Patrick's presen- 

The People's History of Ireland 31 

tation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was chal- 
lenged by the Druid priests. He immediately stooped 
to the emerald sod, plucked therefrom a small trefoil 
plant called the shamrock some say it was the wood 
sorrel and, holding it up before the inquisitive and in- 
terested pagans, proved how possible it was to an infinite 
Power to combine three in one and one in three. Since 
that far-distant day, the shamrock has been recognized as 
the premier national symbol of Ireland, although the 
"sunburst" flag, emblematic of the Druidic worship, it 
is presumed, precedes it in point of antiquity. The harp, 
which is another of Ireland's symbols, was adopted at a 
later period, in recognition of her Bardic genius. 

St. Patrick, or rather Patricius, his Roman name, which 
signifies a nobleman, lived and labored for many, many 
years after he preached at Tara, and made many circuits 
of the island, adding tribe after tribe to the great army 
of his converts. So deep was the impression he made in 
the country that now, after the lapse of fourteen hundred 
years, which were perioded by devastating wars and fear- 
ful religious and social persecutions, his memory is as 
green and as hallowed as if he had died but yesterday. 
Mountains, rivers, lakes, islands, and plains are asso- 
ciated with his name, and thousands of churches, in Ire- 
land and throughout the world, are called after him, 
while millions of Ireland's sons are proud to answer to 
the glorious name of Patrick. He died at a patriarchal 
age, in the abbey of Saul, County Down, founded by him- 
self, A.D. 493, and the anniversary of his departure from 
this life is celebrated by Irishmen of all creeds, and in 
every land, on each i/th day of March, which is called, 
in his honor, St. Patrick's Day. 

32 The People's History of IreJand 

It is no wonder that the Irish apostle is so well re- 
membered and highly honored. Since the disciples 
preached by the shores of the Galilee, there has been 
no such conversion of almost an entire people from one 
form of belief to another. The Druid priests, with some 
exceptions, struggled long and bitterly against the rising 
tide of Christianity in Ireland, but, within the century 
following the death of the great missionary, the Druidic 
rites disappeared forever from the land, and "Green 
Erin" became known thenceforth, for centuries, as the 
Island of Saints. Romantic tradition attributes to St. 
Patrick the miracle of driving all venomous reptiles out 
of Ireland. It is certain, however, that neither snakes 
nor toads exist upon her soil, although both are found 
in the neighboring island of Great Britain. 

According to Nennius, a British writer quoted by Dr. 
Geoffrey Keating, St. Patrick founded in Ireland "three 
hundred and fifty-five churches, and consecrated an equal 
number of bishops; and of priests, he ordained three 
thousand." "Let whomsoever may be surprised," says 
Dr. Keating, "at this great number of bishops in Ireland, 
contemporary with St. Patrick, read what St. Bernard 
says in his Life of St. Malachias, as to the practice in 
Ireland with regard to its bishops. He there says that 
'the bishops are changed and multiplied at the will of the 
metropolitan, or archbishop, so that no single diocese is 
trusting to one, but almost every church has its own 
proper bishop/ ' After this statement of St. Bernard no 
one can be astonished at the number of prelates men- 
tioned above, for the Church was then in its young bloom. 
The number of bishops there mentioned will appear less 
wonderful on reading her domestic records. In them 

The People's History of Ireland 33 

we find that every deaconry in Ireland was, formerly, pre- 
sided over by a bishop. Irish annals show, also, that St. 
Patrick consecrated in Ireland two archbishops, namely, 
an archbishop of Armagh, as Primate of Ireland, and an 
archbishop of Cashel. After the great apostle's death, 
a long and illustrious line of native Irish missionaries 
took up his sacred work and completed his moral con- 
quest of the Irish nation. Nor did their labors termi- 
nate with the needs of their own country. They pene- 
trated to the remotest corners of Britain, which it is 
said they first converted to the Christian faith, and made 
holy pilgrimages to the continent of Europe, founding 
in every district they visited abbeys, monasteries, and uni- 
versities. Ireland herself became for a long period the 
centre of knowledge and piety in insular Europe, and the 
ecclesiastical seminaries at Lismore, Bangor, Armagh, 
Clonmacnois, and other places attracted thousands of stu- 
dents, both native and alien, to her shores. Gaelic, the 
most ancient, it is claimed by many savants, of the Aryan 
tongues, was the national language, and continued so to 
be for more than a thousand years after the era of Pat- 
rick; but Latin, Greek, and Hebrew formed important 
parts of the collegiate curriculum, and the first-named 
tongue was the ordinary means of communication with 
the learned men of other countries. 

The art of illuminated writing on vellum was carried 
to unrivaled perfection in the Irish colleges and monas- 
teries, and the manuscripts of this class preserved in Dub- 
lin and London, facsimilies of which are now placed in 
many American public libraries, as well as in those of 
European universities, bear witness to the high state of 
civilization attained by the Irish people during the peace- 

34 The People's History of Ireland 

ful and prosperous centuries that followed the coming of 
St. Patrick and continued until the demoralizing Danish 
invasion of the eighth century. 

The roll of the Irish saints of the early Christian period 
is a large one, and contains, among others, the names of 
St. Colomba, or Columbkill, St. Finn Barr, St. Brendan, 
the Navigator; St. Kieran, of Ossory; St. Kevin, of 
Glendalough; St. Colman, of Dromore; St. Canice, of 
Kilkenny; St. Jarlath, of Tuam; St. Moling, of Ferns; 
St. Comgall, of Bangor; St. Carthage, of Lismore; St. 
Finian, of Moville; St. Kiernan, of Clonmacnois; St. 
Laserian, of Leighlin; St. Fintan; St. Gall, the Apostle 
of the Swiss ; St. Columbanus, the Apostle of Burgundy ; 
St. Aidan, Apostle of Northumbria; St. Adamnan, Ab- 
bot of lona; St. Rumold, Apostle of Brabant; St. Fear- 
gal, Bishop of Salzburg. These are only a few stars out 
of the almost countless galaxy of the holy men^pf ancient 
Ireland. Of her holy women, also numerous, the chief 
were St. Bridget, Brighid, or Bride, of Kildare; St. 
Monina, St. Ita, St. Syra, St. Dympna, and St. Samthan. 
The premier female saint was, undoubtedly, St. Bridget, 
which signifies, in old Gaelic, "a fiery dart." Modern 
slang often degrades the noble old name into "Biddy." 
Although thought to be a purely Irish appellation, it has 
been borne by, at least, two English women of note. The 
Lady Bridget Plantagenet, youngest daughter of King 
Edward IV, and "Mistress," or Miss, Bridget Cromwell, 
daughter of the Lord Protector of the English Common- 
wealth. Lady Plantagenet, who, in addition to being the 
daughter of a monarch, was the sister of Edward V and 
Elizabeth, Queen of Henry VII ; the niece of Richard III 
and the aunt of Henry VIII, died a nun in the convent of 

The People's History of Ireland 35 

Dartford, England, long after the House of York had 
ceased to reign. "Mistress" Cromwell became the wife 
of one of her father's ablest partisans, and lived to see the 
end of the Protectorate, from which her brother, Richard, 
was deposed, and the restoration of the House of Stuart 
to the English throne. 


Ancient Laws and Government of the Irish 

IRELAND, ages before she was Christianized, pos- 
* sessed a legal code of great merit, generally called the 
Brehon Laws. These remained more or less in force, 
from the earliest historic period down to the days of 
James I, who, because of the wars and conquests of the 
armies of his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth, was the first 
of the English monarchs that succeeded in thoroughly 
breaking up the old system of Irish law and government. 
The Brehon Laws were of Irish origin and contained 
many provisions more in harmony with humanity and 
wisdom than some of the boasted English enactments. 
In common with many other ancient countries of Europe, 
Ireland did not impose the death penalty on a homicide, 
but, instead, collected an eric, or blood fine, from him 
and his relatives, for the benefit of the family of the man 
slain by his hand. The best and briefest work on these 
interesting laws, which need more attention than they 
can be given in a general history, was recently issued by 
an English publishing house for the industrious author, 
Lawrence Ginnell, lawyer, of the Middle Temple, Lon- 
don. In writing of the ancient form of Irish monarchy, 

36 The People's History of Ireland 

which, as we have already noted, was elective, Mr. Gin- 
nell says : "The Irish always had a man, not an assembly, 
at the head of the state, and the system of electing a 
Tanist (heir-apparent) while the holder of the office was 
living, in addition to its making for peace on the demise 
of the Crown, made an interregnum of more rare oc- 
currence than in countries which had not provided a 
Tanist in advance/' The same author divides the classes 
of Irish kings thus: The lowest was the Righ-Inagh 
(Ree-eena) or king of one district, the people of which 
formed an organic state. Sometimes two or three of 
these, nearly related and having mutual interests, did not 
hesitate to combine for the public good under one king. 
The next in rank was the Righ-Mor-Tuah (Ree-More- 
Tooa), who ruled over a number of districts, and often 
had sub-kings under him. The next class of monarch 
was the Righ-Cuicidh (Ree-Cooga), a title which signi- 
fied that he had five of the preceding class within his 
jurisdiction. This was the rank of a provincial king. 
And, highest of all, as his title implied, was the Ard- 
Righ (Ard-Ree), meaning High, or Over, King, who 
had his seat of government for many ages at the national 
palace and capital, established on the "royal hill of 
Tara" in Meath. The king of each district owed al- 
legiance and tribute to the Righ-Mor-Tuah. The latter 
owed allegiance and tribute to the Righ-Cuicidh; and 
he, in turn, owed allegiance and tribute to the Ard-Righ. 

Although the ancient Irish monarchy was, except where 
forceful usurpation occasionally prevailed, elective, the 
candidate for the Tanistry, or heir-apparency, was re- 
quired to be of the "blood royal." Minors were seldom 
or never recognized as being eligible. At rare intervals 

The People's History of Ireland 37 

one might win popular recognition by displaying a pre- 
cocious wisdom, or prowess. The ablest and bravest male 
member of the reigning family was almost invariably 
chosen Ard-Righ, and the provincial and district rulers 
were chosen on the same principle. Meath was the High 
King's own province, and the lesser monarchs swayed 
over Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught, subsidiary 
to, yet in a measure independent of, the Ard-Righ, who 
held his court at Tara until A.D. 554, when St. Ruadan, 
because of sacrilege committed by the reigning monarch, 
Dermid, in dragging a prisoner from the saint's own 
sanctuary and killing him, pronounced a malediction on 
the royal hill and palaces. Thenceforth Tara ceased to 
be the residence of the Ard-Righs of Ireland, and total 
ruin speedily fell upon it. All that now remains of its 
legendary splendor is comprised in the fast vanishing 
mounds on which once stood the palaces, assembly halls, 
and other public buildings of Ireland's ancient monarchs. 
No man or woman of Irish race can gaze unmoved on 
the venerable eminence, rising proudly still above the rich 
plains of Meath, which has beh'eld so many fast succeed- 
ing vicissitudes of a nation's rise, agony, and fall. 

"No more to chiefs and ladies bright 

The harp of Tara swells ; 
The chord alone which breaks at night 

Its tale of ruin tells : 
Thus, Freedom now so seldom wakes, 

The only throb she gives 
Is when some heart indignant breaks 

To show that still she lives." 

The most famous and powerful of the royal families 
of Ireland were the O'Neills of Ulster, who enjoyed the 
High Kingship longest of all ; the O'Briens of Munster, 

38 The People's History of Ireland 

the O'Conors of Connaught, the MacMurroughs of Lein- 
ster, and the McLaughlins of Meath. Their descendants 
are simply legion, for all the Irish clansmen were kin- 
dred to their kings and chiefs, and assumed, as was their 
blood right, their surnames when these came into fash- 
ion. When the Irish septs, about the end of the tenth 
century, by the direction of King Brian the Great, 
chose their family designations, the prefix "Mac" was 
taken as indicating the son, or some immediate de- 
scendant of the monarch, prince, or chief of that par- 
ticular tribe, while that of "Ui" or "O," as it is now 
universally written in English, signified a grandson or 
some more remote kinsman of the original founder of 
the name. Thus, the families bearing the prefix "Mac" 
generally hold that they descend from the elder lines of 
the royal family, or the leading chiefs, whil* those who 
bear the "O" descend from the younger lines. And so 
it has come to be a national proverb, founded on more 
than mere fancy, that every Irishman is the descendant 
of a king. The Irish prefixes, however, are a genuine 
certificate of nobility, if by that term is meant long de- 
scent. An old rhyme puts the matter in homely but log- 
ical manner thus : 

"By 'Mac' and 'O' you'll surely know 

True Irishmen, they say; 
But if they lack both 'O' and 'Mac' 
No Irishmen are they." 

Many families of Irish origin in this and other 
countries have foolishly dropped the Celtic prefixes 
from their names, and thus destroyed their best title 
to respectability. They should remember that "Mac" 
and "O" indicate a longer and nobler pedigree than 

The People's History of Ireland 39 

either Capet, Plantagenet, Tudor, Stuart, Guelph, or 
Wettin all distinguished enough in their way, but quite 
modern when compared with the Gaelic patronymics. 
The Scotch Highlanders, who are of the junior branch 
of the Irish race, according to the most reliable histo- 
rians, use the "Mac" very generally, while the "O" is 
rarely found among them. On this account, as well as 
others, some of the Scottish savants have attempted to 
argue that Ireland was originally peopled by immigrants 
from Scotland, but this argument is fallacious on its face, 
because Ireland was known to the ancients as "Scotia 
Major" greater or older Scotland; while the latter 
country was designated "Scotia Minor"" smaller or 
younger Scotland. The Irish and Scotch were alike called 
"Scots" until long after the time of St. Patrick, and the 
kindred nations were close friends and helpful allies, 
from the earliest historical period down to the reign of 
Edward III of England, and even later. It was in Ire- 
land that Robert Bruce, his brother Edward afterward 
elected and crowned king of that country and their 
few faithful retainers sought and found friends and a 
refuge just before their final great victory at Bannock- 
burn, A.D. 1314. Sir Walter Scott mentions this fact 
in his graphic "Tales of a Grandfather," and also in his 
stirring poem, "The Lord of the Isles." Keating quotes 
Bede, who lived about 700 hundred years after Christ, 
as saying in his "History of the Saxons," "Hibernia is 
the proper fatherland of the Scoti" (Scots). So also 
Calgravius, another ancient historian, who, in writing 
of St. Columba, says: "Hibernia (Ireland) was an- 
ciently called Scotia, and from it sprang, and emi- 
grated, the nation of the Scoti, which inhabits the part 

Ireland ^ Vol. L 

4O The People's History of Ireland 

of Albania (Scotland) that lies nearest to Great Britain 
(meaning England), and that has been since called 
Scotia from the fact." 

"Marianus Scotus, an Alban (i.e. Scotch) writer," 
says Keating, "bears similar testimony in writing on the 
subject of St. Kilian. Here are his words : 'Although 
the part of Britannia which borders upon Anglia (Eng- 
land) and stretches toward the north, is at present dis- 
tinctively called Scotia (Scotland), nevertheless, the Ven- 
erable Bede (already quoted) shows that Hibernia was 
formerly known by that name ; for he informs us that the 
nation of the Picti (Picts) arrived in Hibernia from 
Scythia, and that they found there the nation of the 

"Serapus, in certain remarks which he makes in writ- 
ing about St. Bonifacius, is in perfect accord with the 
above cited writers. He says that 'Hibernia, likewise, 
claimed Scotia as one of her names, but, however, be- 
cause a certain part of the Scotic nation emigrated from 
this same Hibernia and settled in those parts of Britan- 
nia in which the Picti were then dwelling, and was there 
called the nation of the Dal-Riada, from the name of 
its leader, as the Venerable Bede relates, and because 
this tribe afterward drove the Picti from their homes, 
and seized upon the entire northern region for themselves, 
and gave it the ancient name of their own race, so that 
the nation might remain undivided; in this manner has 
the name of Scotia become ambiguous one, the elder, 
and proper, Scotia being in Hibernia, while the other, 
the more recent, lies in the northern part of Britannia.' 
From the words of the author I draw these conclusions : 
(i) that the Irish were, in strict truth, the real Scoti; 

/row 60.UOO to 100,000 
/row 10,000 to 50,000 

Wore 10,000 o 

Counti Tomit underlined 
t/iwm (/, at 

Cal^FASTNET RK. \ * 


-- ? ' ^ V^ 

THE " MAiDENS '' Siranmert) 

EVx) T>3 L 'EveiAWA 
. OaiSifiLiS' firrlcl 

wejcford Harbor 

JL & *te4 e ***'" l? 



OUI,H-.^.Q...J. : 


X ^ v 


c??-- g P 


St.Davids H 
St.Brides B 


""W so, 

-..?* Jf,-/ 

of Greenwict 

The People's History of Ireland 41 

(2) that the Dal-Riada was the first race, dwelling in 
Scotland, to which the name of Scoti was applied; (3) 
that Ireland was the true, ancient Scotia, and that Alba 
(Scotland) was the New Scotia, and also that it was the 
Kinescuit, or Tribe of Scot, that first called it Scotia." 

There were numerous after invasions of Alba by the 
Milesian Irish, who established new colonies the most 
formidable of which was that founded by the brothers 
Fergus, Andgus, and Lome in the beginning of the sixth 
century. For nearly a hundred years this colony paid 
tribute to Ireland, but, in 574, the Scotch King Aedan, 
who was brother to the King of Leinster, declined to 
pay further tribute. A conference of the monarchs was 
held all being close kindred of the Hy-Nial race and 
St. Columba, their immortal cousin, came from his monas- 
tery in lona to take counsel with them. The result was 
a wise and generous abrogation of the tribute by the Irish 
nation, and Scotland became independent, but remained, 
for long centuries, as before stated, the cordial friend and 
ally of her sister country. The Scots then became para- 
mount in Scotia Minor, and brought under subjection 
all the tribes who were hostile to the royal line, founded 
by Fergus, from whom descended the Stuarts and other 
monarchical houses of Great Britain. This convention 
also lessened the number and power of the Bards, who 
had become arrogant and exacting in their demands upon 
the kings, princes, and chiefs, who feared their sarcastic 
talent, and paid exorbitant levies, rather than endure 
their abuse and ridicule. 

After the abandonment of Tara as a royal residence, 
in the sixth century, the High Kings held court at Taill- 
tenn, now Telltown, and Tlachtga, now the Hill of Ward, 

42 The People's History of Ireland 

in Meath, and at Ushnagh (Usna) in Westmeath. The 
Ulster monarchs had seats at Emain, near Armagh 
(Ar'-ma') Greenan-Ely, on the hill of Ailech, in Don- 
egal; and at Dun-Kiltair still a striking ruin near 
Downpatrick. The kings of Leinster had their palaces 
at Naas in Kildare, Dunlavin in Wicklow, Kells in 
Meath, and Dinnree, near Leighlin Bridge, in Gather- 
lough (Carlow). The Munster rulers held high carni- 
val, for ages, at Cashel of the Kings and Caher, in Tip- 
perary; at Bruree and Treda-na-Rhee still a most pic- 
turesque mound, showing the ancient Celtic method of 
fortification, in Limerick; and at Kinkora, situated on 
the right bank of the Shannon, in Clare. The O' Con- 
ors, kings of Connaught, had royal residences at Rath- 
croaghan (Crohan) and Ballintober the latter founded 
by "Cathal Mor of the Wine Red Hand," in the thir- 
teenth century in the present county of Roscommon; 
and at Athunree, or Athenry Anglice, "the Ford of the 
Kings," in Galway. Ballintober, according to tradition, 
was the finest royal residence in all Ireland, and the re- 
mains of Cathal Mor's castle are still pointed out in the 
vicinity of the town. It was to it Clarence Mangan al- 
luded in his "Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth 
Century," thus : 

"Then saw I thrones and circling fires, 

And a dome rose near me as by a spell, 
Whence flowed the tone of silver lyres 
And many voices in wreathed swell. 
And their thrilling chime 

Fell on mine ears 

Like the heavenly hymn of an angel band 
'It is now the time 

We are in the years 
Of Cathal Mor of the Wine Red Hand." 

The People's History of Ireland 43 

One of the great institutions of ancient Ireland, 
vouched for by Dr. Geoffrey Keating and many other 
learned historians, was the Fiann, or National Guard, of 
the country, first commanded by Finn MacCumhail 
(MacCool), "the Irish Cid" of pagan times. This force 
was popular and lived by hunting, when not actively 
engaged in warfare, to preserve internal government, or 
repel foreign aggression. When so engaged, they were 
quartered upon and supported by the people of the locali- 
ties in which they rendered service. Their organization 
was simple, and bore much resemblance to the regimental 
and company formations of the present day. Their 
drill and discipline were excessively severe. Four in- 
junctions were laid upon every person who entered this 
military order. The first was "to receive no portion 
with a wife, but to choose her for good manners and 
virtue." The second was "never to offer violence to any 
woman." The third enjoined on the member "never to 
give a refusal to any mortal for anything of which one 
was possessed." The fourth was "that no single war- 
rior of their body should ever flee before nine cham- 

Other stipulations were of a more drastic character. 
No member of the Fiann could allow his blood, if shed, 
to be avenged by any other person than himself, if he 
should survive to avenge; and his father, mother, rela- 
tives, and tribe had to renounce all claim for compensa- 
tion for his death. 

No member could be admitted until he became a Bard 
and had mastered the Twelve Books of Poesy. 

No man could be allowed into the Fiann until a pit 
or trench deep enough to reach to his knees had been 

44 The People's History of Ireland 

dug in the earth, and he had been placed therein, armed 
with his shield, and holding in his hand a hazel staff of 
the length of a warrior's arm. Nine warriors, armed 
with nine javelins, were then set opposite him, at the 
distance of nine ridges; these had to cast their nine 
weapons at him all at once, and then, if he chanced to 
receive a single wound, in spite of his shield and staff, 
he was not admitted to the Order. 

Another rule was that the candidate must run through 
a wood, at full speed, with his hair plaited, and with 
only the grace of a single tree between him and detailed 
pursuers. If they came up with him, or wounded him, 
he was rejected. 

He was also rejected "if his arms trembled in his 
hands"; or if, in running through the wood, "a single 
braid of his hair had been loosened out of its plait." 

He was not admitted if, in his flight, his foot had 
broken a single withered branch. Neither could he pass 
muster "unless he could jump over a branch of ^ tree 
as high as his forehead, and could stoop under one as 
low as his knee, through the agility of his body." He 
was rejected, also, if he failed "to pluck a thorn out of 
his heel with his hand without stopping in his course." 
Each member, before being admitted to the Order, was 
obliged to swear fidelity and homage to the Righ-Fein- 
nedh (Ree-Feena) or king of the Fenians, which is the 
English translation of the title. 

There were also other military bodies not forgetting 
the more ancient "Red Branch Knights," whom Moore 
has immortalized in one of his finest lyrics, but the Fe- 
nians and their redoubtable chief hold the foremost place 
of fame in Irish national annals. 

The People's History of Ireland 45 

It would seem that a kind of loose federal compact 
existed, from time to time, between the High King and 
the other monarchs, but, unfortunately, there does not 
appear to have been a very strong or permanent bond 
of union, and this fatal defect in the Irish Constitution 
of pre-Norman times led to innumerable disputes about 
succession to the Ard-Righship and endless civil wars, 
which eventually wrecked the national strength and made 
the country the comparatively easy prey of adventurous 
and ambitious foreigners. The monarchical system was, 
in itself, faulty. Where a monarchy exists at all, the suc- 
cession should be so regulated that the lineal heir, ac- 
cording to primogeniture, whether a minor or not, 
must succeed to the throne, except when the succession 
is, for some good and sufficient reason, set aside by the 
legislative body of the nation. This was done in Eng- 
land in the case of Henry IV, who, with the consent 
of Parliament, usurped the crown of Richard II; and 
also in the case of William and Mary, who were selected 
by the British Parliament of their day to supplant James 
II, the father-in-law and uncle of the former and father 
of the latter. The act of settlement and succession, 
passed in 1701, ignored the male line of the Stuarts, 
chiefly because it was Catholic, and placed the succession 
to the throne, failing issue of William and Mary and 
Anne, another daughter of the deposed King James, in 
a younger, Protestant branch of the female line of 
Stuart the House of Hanover-Brunswick which now 
wears the British crown. But, in general, as far as the 
question of monarchy is concerned, the direct system of 
succession has proven most satisfactory, and has fre- 
quently prevented confusion of title and consequent civil 

46 The People's History of Ireland 

war. We can recall only one highly important occasion 
when it provoked that evil the sanguinary thirty years' 
feud between the kindred royal English, or, rather, Nor- 
man-French, Houses of York and Lancaster. Even in 
that case the quarrel arose from the original bad title of 
Henry IV, who was far from being the lineal heir to the 
throne. Our own democratic system of choosing a chief 
ruler is, no doubt, best of all. We elect from the body 
of the people a President whose term of office is four 
years. In some respects he has more executive power 
than most hereditary monarchs, but if at the end of his 
official term he fails to suit a majority of the delegates 
of his party to the National Convention, some other 
member of it is nominated in his stead. The opposition 
party also nominates a candidate, and very often suc- 
ceeds in defeating the standard-bearer of the party in 
power. Sometimes there are three or more Presidential 
candidates in the field, as was the case in 1860, when 
Abraham Lincoln was elected. Succession to the Presi- 
dency, therefore, is not confined to any one family, or 
its branches, in a republic, and the office of President of 
the United States may be competed for by any eligible 
male citizen who can control his party nomination. The 
example of Washington, who refused a third term, has 
become an unwritten law in America, and it defeated 
General Grant's aspiration to succeed Mr. Hayes in the 
Republican National Convention of 1880. In France, 
under Napoleon, every French soldier was supposed to 
carry a marshal's baton in his knapsack. In the United 
States, every native-born schoolboy carries the Presi- 
dential portfolio in his satchel. 

The People's History of Ireland 47 


Period of Danish Invasion 

HE Irish people, having settled down to the Chris- 
1 tian form of worship, were enjoying "life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness," building churches and col- 
leges, and sending out a stream of saints and scholars 
to the rest of Europe, when, about the end of the 
eighth century, the restless Norsemen, universally called 
"Danes" in Ireland, swept down in their galleys by 
thousands on the Irish coasts, and, after many fierce con- 
flicts, succeeded in establishing colonies at the mouths 
of many of the great rivers of the island. There they 
built fortified towns, from which they were able to sally 
forth by sea or land to change their base of operations 
and establish new conquests. Dublin at the mouth of 
the Liffey, Drogheda at the mouth of the Boyne, Wex- 
ford at the mouth of the Slaney, Waterford at the 
mouth of the Suir, and Limerick at the estuary of the 
Shannon, are all cities founded by the Danes, who were 
natural traders and fierce warriors. They did not con- 
fine their attentions exclusively to Ireland, but, about the 
same period, conquered Saxon England, ruling com- 
pletely over it; and they established a strong colony on 
the north coast of France, which is called Normandy to 
this day, and from which sprang, by a combination of 
Scandian with Gallic blood, the greatest race of warriors 
the Romans, perhaps, excepted the world has known. 
The native Irish met their fierce invaders with daunt- 

48 The People's History of Ireland 

less courage, but they had been so long at peace that 
they were no longer expert in the use of arms, and the 
Danes were all-powerful on the seas. Those Norsemen 
were pagans, and had no respect for revealed religion, 
literature, works of art, architecture, or, in short, any- 
thing except land-grabbing and plunder. It must be re- 
membered that most of northern Europe, at the period 
written of, was in a benighted state, and that Great Brit- 
ain itself was barely emerging from the intellectual and 
spiritual gloom of the Dark Ages. The Norse invaders, 
whenever successful in their enterprises against the Irish 
chiefs, invariably demolished the churches and colleges, 
murdered the priests, monks, and nuns often, however, 
carrying the latter into captivity and burned many of 
the priceless manuscripts, the pride and the glory of the 
illustrious scholarship of ancient Ireland. In the middle 
portion of the ninth century about 840 when Nial III 
was Ard-Righ of Ireland, came the fierce Dane Turgesius, 
at the head of an immense fleet and army. He at once 
proceeded to ravage the exposed portions of the coast, 
and then forced his way inland, laying the country under 
tribute of all kinds as he advanced. He made prisoners 
of Irish virgins and married them, by main force, to his 
barbarous chiefs. He even occupied the celebrated mon- 
astery of Clonmacnois and its university as a headquar- 
ters, converted the great altar into a throne, and issued 
his murderous edicts from that holy spot. Clonmacnois, 
translated into English, means "the Retreat of the Sons 
of the Noble," and was the Alma Mater of the princes 
and nobility of Ireland. This crowning outrage, coupled 
with insults offered to Irish ladies, finally aroused the 
spirit of burning vengeance in the breasts of the Irish 

The People's History of Ireland 49 

people. Tradition says that thirty handsome young men, 
disguised as maidens, attended a feast given at Clon- 
macnois by Turgesius and his chiefs. When the barba- 
rians were sated and had fallen into a drunken stupor, 
the youths rose upon and slew them all. The body of 
Turgesius, with a millstone tied around the neck, was 
thrown into a neighboring lake. Then the nation, under 
the brave Nial III, rose and drove the Norsemen back 
to the seacoast, where they rallied. Another raid on the 
interior of the island was attempted, but repelled. Sad 
to relate, the gallant King Nial, while attempting to save 
the life of a retainer who fell into the Callan River, was 
himself drowned, to the great grief of all Ireland. The 
name of the river in which he perished was changed to 
the Ownarigh (Ownaree) or King's River a designa- 
tion which, after the lapse of ages, it still retains. 

A period of comparative repose followed. Many of 
the Danes became converts to Christian doctrine, and 
there was, probably, more or less of intermarriage among 
the higher classes of the rival races. But the Norsemen 
retained much of their old-time ferocity, and, occasion- 
ally, the ancient struggle for supremacy was renewed, 
with varying success. It is humiliating for an Irish 
writer to be obliged to admit that some of the Irish 
Christian princes, jealous of the incumbent Ard-Righ, did 
not remain faithful to their country, and actually allied 
themselves with the Danes, participating in their barbar- 
ous acts. This explains why, for a period of about three 
hundred years, in spite of repeated Irish victories, the 
Norsemen were able to hold for themselves a large por- 
tion of Ireland, especially the districts lying close to thf 
sea, where they had no difficulty in receiving supplies 

50 The People's History of Ireland 

and reinforcements from Denmark and Norway. Many 
of those old Irish princes were, indeed, conscienceless 
traitors, but the people, as a whole, never abandoned the 
national cause. 

The feuds of the Munster chiefs, toward the end of 
the tenth century, had the unlocked for effect of bringing 
to the front the greatest ruler and warrior produced by 
ancient Ireland. Because of a series of tragedies in which 
the hero himself bore no blameful part, Brian of Kinkora, 
son of Kennedy and brother of Mahon, both of whom 
had reigned as kings of Thomond, or North Munster, 
ascended the throne of that province. Mahon, progeni- 
tor of the southern MacMahons from whom descended 
the late President of the French Republic, Maurice 
Patrice MacMahon, Marshal of France and Duke of 
Magenta was murdered by Prince Donovan, a faithless 
ally. His younger brother, Brian, afterward called 
Borumah or "Boru" literally, "Brian of the Cow 
Tribute" fiercely avenged his assassination on the treach- 
erous Donovan, and on the Danish settlers of Limerick, 
who were the confederates of that criminal in his evil 
acts. Brian, young, powerful, and destitute of fear, after 
disposing of Donovan, killed with his own brave hand 
Ivor, the Danish prince, together with his two sons, al- 
though these fierce pagans had taken refuge in the Chris- 
tian sanctuary on Scattery Island, in the Shannon, and 
then swept the remaining conspirators, both Irish and 
Danes, off the face of the earth. Prince Murrough, 
Brian's heir, then a mere boy, slew in single combat the 
villanous chief, Molloy, who, as the base instrument of 
Donovan and Ivor, actually killed his uncle, King Mahon. 
Afterward, Brian reigned for a brief period, quietly, as 

The People's History of Ireland 51 

King of Thomond. He had a profound insight and 
well knew that only a strong, centralized government 
could unite all Ireland against the foreigners, and he de- 
signed to be the head of such a government. He had 
only one rival in fame and ability on Irish soil the 
reigning Ard-Righ, Malachy II. This monarch had 
scourged the warrior Northmen in many bloody cam- 
paigns. In one battle he slew two Danish princes, and 
took from one a golden collar, and from the other a price- 
less sword. The poet Moore commemorates the former 
exploit in the well-known melody, "Let Erin Remember 
the Days of Old." 

Brian of Kinkora, fiery of mood, enterprising, ambi- 
tious, and, we fear, somewhat unscrupulous in pursuit of 
sovereignty, a born general and diplomat, as either ca- 
pacity might suit his purpose, burned to possess himself 
of the supreme sceptre. His ambition led, as usual under 
such conditions, to acts of aggression on his part, and, 
finally, to civil war between Malachy and himself. A 
terrible struggle raged in Ireland for twenty years, until, 
at last, Ard-Righ Malachy was forced to capitulate, and 
his rival became High King of Ireland in his place. The 
Danes, naturally, took advantage of the civil strife to 
re-establish their sway in the island, and gained many ad- 
vantages over the Irish troops. Moved by the danger of 
his country, the noble Malachy allied himself with Brian, 
and, together, they marched against the Norsemen and 
drove them back to their seacoast forts. But those bold 
and restless spirits did not, therefore, cease to war upon 
Ireland. Again and yet again they placed new armies in 
the field, only to be again baffled and routed by either the 
skilful Brian or the devoted Malachy. 

52 The People's History of Ireland 


Battle of Clontarf, A.D., 1014 Total Overthrow of the Danish Army 
and Power in Ireland 

MANY of the princes of Leinster, more especially 
the MacMurroughs (MacMurro) were generally, 
in some measure, allied to the Danes, and fought with 
them against their own countrymen. After several years 
of warfare, a peace was, at length, patched up with the 
MacMurrough, and he became a guest of King Brian at 
Kinkora. In those days chess was the national game 
of the Irish princes and chiefs, and while engaged in it 
with the Leinster guest, Prince Murrough (Murro), 
Brian's eldest son, in a fit of anger, hurled a taunt at the 
former in regard to his recent alliance with the invaders 
of his country. This action was, of course, rude, and 
even brutal, on the part of Prince Murrough, although 
MacMurrough had been guilty of treasonable offences. 
The Leinster potentate rose immediately from the table 
at which they were playing, pale from rage, and, in a 
loud voice, called for his horse and retainers. He was 
obeyed at once and left the palace. The wise King Brian, 
on learning of the quarrel and departure, sent messengers 
after the King of Leinster to bring him back, but his 
anger was so great that he would not listen to their rep- 
resentations, so that they went back without him to Kin- 
kora. MacMurrough immediately re-allied himself with 
the Danes, and so the flames of war were rekindled with a 
vengeance. Many other princes and chiefs of Leinster 

The People's History of Ireland 53 

made common cause with their king and his foreign allies. 
Reinforcements for the latter poured into Ireland from 
Scandinavia, from Britain, from the neighboring islands, 
from every spot of earth on which an invader could be 
mustered all inflamed against Ireland, and all expecting 
to wipe King Brian and his army from the Irish soil. 
But Brian had his allies, too ; the armies of Munster, Con- 
naught, part of Ulster, and most of the heroic clans of 
Leinster flocked to his standard, the latter led by the ever- 
faithful Malachy and his tributary chiefs. All of the 
MacMurrough interest, as already stated, sided with the 
Danes. A majority of the Ulster princes, jealous of 
Brian's fame and supreme power, held back from his 
support, but did not join the common enemy. 

Brian was now an old man, and even his bold son, 
Murrough, the primary cause of the new trouble, was 
beyond middle age. The hostile armies hurried toward 
Dublin, the principal Danish stronghold, and on Good 
Friday morning, April 23, 1014, were face to face on the 
sands of Clontarf, which slope down to Dublin Bay. We 
have no correct account of the numbers engaged, but 
there were, probably, not less than thirty thousand men 
large armies for those remote days on each side. It 
was a long and a terrible battle, for each army appeared 
determined to conquer or die. Under King Brian com- 
manded Prince Murrough and his five brothers : Malachy, 
Kian, Prince of Desmond, or South Munster; Davoren, 
of the same province; O' Kelly, Prince of Hy-Many, East 
Connaught; O'Heyne, the Prince of Dalaradia, and the 
Stewards of Mar and Lennox in Scotland. 

The Danes and their allies were commanded by Brodar, 
the chief admiral of the Danish fleet; King Sitric, of 

54 The People's History of Ireland 

Dublin;* the Danish captains, Sigurd and Duvgall, and 
the warrior Norwegian chiefs, Carlos and Anrud. The 
Lord of the Orkney Islands also led a contingent, in 
which Welsh and Cornish auxiliaries figured. 

Thus, it will seem, the cause was one of moment, as the 
fate of a country was to be decided, and the ablest cap- 
tains of Ireland and Scandinavia led the van of the re- 
spective hosts. The struggle was long and murderous, 
for the armies fought hand to hand. Brian, too feeble to 
sit his war-horse and bear the weight of even his light 
armor, worn out, moreover, by the long march and the 
marshaling of his forces, was prevailed upon to retire to 
his pavilion and rest. He placed the active command of 
the Irish army in the hands of King Malachy and his son, 
Prince Murrough O'Brien. The conflict lasted from day- 
light until near the setting of the sun. Every leader of 
note on the Danish side, except Brodar, was killed many 
by the strong hand of Prince Murrough and his brave 
young son, Turlough O'Brien, after his father the person 
most likely to be elected to the chief kingship of Ireland. 
On the Irish side there fell Prince Murrough, his gallant 
son, the Scottish chiefs of Mar and Lennox, who came, 
with their power, to fight for Ireland, and many other 
leaders of renown. King Brian himself, while at prayer 
in his tent, which stood apart and unguarded, was killed 
by Brodar, the flying Danish admiral, who was pursued 
and put to death by a party of Irish soldiers. 

The slaughter of the minor officers and private men, 
on both sides, was immense, and the little river Tolka, on 
the banks of which the main battle was fought, was 

* Sitric, according to some writers, was not in the battle. 

The People's History of Ireland 55 

choked with dead bodies and ran red with blood. But 
the Danes and their allies were completely broken and 
routed, and the raven of Denmark never again soared 
to victory in the Irish sky. Many Danes remained in 
the Irish seaport towns, but they became Irish in dress, 
language, and feeling, and thousands of their descend- 
ants are among the best of Irishmen to-day. 

Ireland, although so signally victorious at Clontarf, sus- 
tained what proved to be a deadly blow in the loss of her 
aged king and his two immediate heirs. Brian, himself, 
unwittingly opened the door of discord when he took the 
crown forcibly from the Hy-Niall family, which had worn 
it so long. His aim was to establish a supreme and per- 
petual Dalcassian dynasty in himself and his descendants 
a wise idea for those times, but one balked by destiny. 
Now all the provincial Irish monarchs aspired to the su- 
preme power, and this caused no end of jealousy and 
intrigue. Brian, in his day of pride, had been hard on 
the Ossorians, and their chief, Fitzpatrick, Prince of 
Ossory, basely visited his wrath, as an ally of the Danes, 
on the Dalcassian contingent of the Irish army returning 
from Clontarf encumbered by their wounded. But these 
dauntless warriors did not for a moment flinch. The 
hale stood gallantly to their arms, and the wounded, un- 
able to stand upright, demanded to be tied to stakes placed 
in the ground, and thus supported they fought with mag- 
nificent desperation. The treacherous Ossorian prince 
was routed, as he deserved to be, and has left behind 
a name of infamy. Many noble patriots of the house of 
Fitzpatrick have since arisen and passed away, but that 
particular traitor ranks with Iscariot, MacMurrough, 
Monteith, and Arnold in the annals of treachery. Who 

56 The People's History of Ireland 

that has read them has not been thrilled by the noble lines 
of Moore which describe the sacrifice of the wounded 
Dalcassians ? 

"Forget not our wounded companions who stood 

In the day of distress by our side; 
When the moss of the valley grew red with their blood 

They stirred not, but conquered and died ! 
That sun which now blesses our arms with his light, 

Saw them fall upon Ossory's plain, 
Of let him not blush when he leaves us to-night 

To nd that they fell there in vain." 

The glorioos King Malachy, although ever in the 
thickest of the battle, survived the carnage of Clontarf. 
Unable to agree upon a candidate from any of the pro- 
vincial royal families because of their bitter rivalries, 
the various factions, having confidence in Malachy's wis- 
dom and patriotism, again elected him High King of 
Ireland, the last man who held that title without dispute. 
He reigned but eight years after his second elevation to 
the supreme throne of his country and died at a good 
old age about the middle of September, 1022, in the 
odor of sanctity, and sincerely lamented by the Irish 
nation, excepting a few ambitious princes who coveted 
the crown his acts had glorified. In the whole range of 
Irish history he was the noblest royal character, and his 
name deserves to be forever honored by the nation he 
sought to preserve. 

After the good king's death, a younger son of Brian 
Boru, Prince Donough (Dunna), made an attempt to be 
elected Ard-Righ, and, failing in that, sought to hold 
the crown by force. But the provincial monarchs refused 
to recognize his claims, as he did not appear to inherit 
either the military prowess or force of character of his 

The People's History of Ireland 57 

great father. After some futile attempts to maintain his 
assumed authority, he was finally deposed by his abler 
nephew, Turlough O'Brien, who occupied the throne, not 
without violent opposition, for a period. Poor Donough 
proceeded to Rome and presented his father's crown and 
harp to the Pope, probably because he had no other valu- 
able offerings to bestow. This circumstance was after- 
ward made use of by the Anglo-Normans to make it 
appear that the presentation made by the deposed and 
discredited Donough to the Pontiff carried with it the 
surrender of the sovereignty of Ireland to his Holiness. 
No argument could be more absurd, because, as has been 
shown, the crown of Ireland was elective, not hereditary, 
except with well understood limitations, which made the 
blood royal a necessity in any candidate. Donough, in 
any case, was never acknowledged as High King of 
Ireland, and could not transfer a title he did not possess. 
In fact all the Irish monarchs may be best described not 
as Kings of Ireland, but Kings of the Irish. They had 
no power to alienate, or transfer, the tribe lands from 
the people, and held them only in trust for their voluntary 
subjects. Modern Irish landlordism is founded on the 
feudal, not the tribal, system. Hence its unfitness to 
satisfy a people in whom lingers the heredity of the 
ancient Celtic custom. King Brian, the most absolute of 
all the Irish rulers, is described by some annalists as 
"Emperor of the Irish." 


58 The People's History of Ireland 

Desolating Civil Wars Among the Irish 

FROM the deposition of Donough O'Brien down to 
the period of the Norman invasion of the island 
about a century and a half Ireland was cursed by the 
civil wars which raged interminably, because of disputes 
of royal succession, between the McLoughlins of Ulster 
a branch of the Hy-Niall dynasty and the descendants 
of King Brian of Kinkora, in which the latter were finally 
worsted. Then the successful family fell out with royal 
O'Conors of Connaught. One of the latter, a brave and 
ambitious man, called Turlough Mor, aimed at the chief 
sovereignty and proved himself an able general and a 
wise statesman. He reigned in splendor over Connaught, 
and terrorized his enemies of Ulster and Munster by his 
splendid feats of arms. He held his court at Rathcro- 
ghan, in Roscommon, and often entertained as many as 
3,000 guests on occasions of festival. His palace, forti- 
fied after the circular Celtic fashion, dominated more 
than four hundred forts, or duns, which were the strong- 
holds of his chiefs, in the territory of Roscommon alone ; 
he founded churches and was generous to the clergy and 
to the poor. In spite of all this, however, he was unable 
to attain to the High Kingship, and only succeeded in 
paving the way to the national throne for his son and 
successor, Rory, commonly called Roderick, O' Conor, 
whose reign was destined to behold the Anglo-Normans 

The People's History of Ireland 59 

in Ireland. Dr. Joyce, in dealing with this troubled 
period of Irish history, says that during the one hundred 
and fifty years comprised in it, there were eight Ard- 
Righs "with opposition" that is, some one of the prov- 
inces, perhaps more, would refuse to recognize their 
jurisdiction. There was also chaos among the minor 
royal families. As regarded the High King, it was not 
unusual to have two of them using that title at once, as 
was the case with Donal O'Loughlin, King of Ulster, 
and Murtough O'Brien, King of Munster. Both these 
claimants terminated their careers in monasteries. A 
similar condition existed, also, between Turlough Mor 
O'Conor, before mentioned, and Murtough O'Loughlin, 
King of Ulster, and the strife was only ended by the 
death of Turlough Mor, in 1156. His son, Roderick, 
then attempted to wrest the Ard-Righship from the 
Ulster monarch, but was defeated. On the death of 
the latter, in 1166, Roderick, who was not opposed by 
any candidate of influence, was elected High King the 
last of the title who reigned over all Ireland. 

It may be asked, why did not the clansmen the rank 
and file of the Irish people put a stop to the insane feuds 
of their kipgs, princes, and chiefs ? Because, we answer, 
they were accustomed to the tribal system and idea. 
Doubtless, they loved Ireland, in a general way, but were 
much more attached to their family tribe-land, and, above 
all, they adored the head of their sept and followed where 
he led, asking no questions as to the ethics of his cause. 
Had they been more enlightened regarding the art of gov- 
ernment, they might have combined against their selfish 
leaders and crushed them. But the tribal curse was upon 
them, and is not yet entirely lifted. 

60 The People's History of Ireland 

The Danes held the crown of England for about a 
quarter of a century after they were driven from power 
in Ireland. At last, after great difficulty, they were 
driven from the throne and the saintly Edward the Con- 
fessor, of the old Saxon line, was raised to the kingship 
of England. His successor, King Harold a brave but, we 
fear, not a very wise man is said by English historians 
to have "done homage" an evil custom of those days 
to William, Duke of Normandy, while on a visit to that 
country. At all events, William claimed the crown, which 
Harold, very properly, declined to surrender. William 
was an able and resolute, but fierce and cruel, warrior. 
He speedily organized a force of 60,000 mercenaries, 
mainly French-Normans, but with thousands of real 
Frenchmen among them, and, having provided himself 
with an immense flotilla a wondrous achievement in that 
age of the world succeeded in throwing his entire force 
on the English coast. Harold, nothing daunted, met him 
on a heath near Hastings, in Sussex, where the Saxon 
army had strongly intrenched itself, and would, perhaps, 
have been victorious had not it abandoned its position 
to pursue the fleeing Normans, who, with their accus- 
tomed martial skill, turned upon their disordered pur- 
suers and repulsed them in return. The centre of the 
great conflict is marked by the ruins of Battle Abbey. 
The two armies were about equal in strength and fought 
the whole length of an October day before the combat 
was decided. Prodigies of valor were performed, but, 
at last, the brave Harold fell, and the remains of the 
Saxon army fled from that fatal field. William, soon 
afterward, occupied London. The Saxons made but 
small show of resistance, after Hastings, and, within a 

The People's History of Ireland 61 

few years, "fair England" was parceled out among Wil- 
liam's Norman-French captains, who thus laid the foun- 
dation of the baronial fabric that, with one brief interval, 
has dominated England ever since. A few of the Saxon 
nobles managed, somehow, to save their domains 
probably by swearing allegiance to William and marrying 
their lovely daughters to his chiefs but, as a whole, the 
Saxon people became the serfs of the Norman barons, 
and were scarcely recognized even as subjects, until the 
long and bloody wars with France, in the thirteenth, four- 
teenth, and fifteenth centuries, made them necessary, in 
a military sense, to the Plantagenet kings, who employed 
them chiefly as archers. Under Norman training, their 
skill with the deadly long bow made them perhaps the 
most formidable infantry of the Middle Ages. 

The Normans in England, very wisely, accommodated 
themselves to the new conditions and made up their minds 
to live upon and enjoy the lands they had won by the 
sword. They rapidly became more English than Nor- 
man, and after the accession of the House of Anjou 
to the throne, in the person of Henry II, began to call 
themselves "Englishmen." Sir Walter Scott, in his 
noble historical romance of "Ivanhoe," draws a splen- 
didly vivid picture of that period. 

In Ireland, as we have seen, the series of distracting 
civil wars, all growing out of questions of succession to 
the national and provincial thrones, still progressed, and, 
owing to the unceasing discord, prosperity waned, and 
some historians claim that Church discipline was relaxed, 
although not to any such extent as is asserted by the Nor- 
man chroniclers. But the reigning Pontiff, hearing of 
the trouble, summoned some of the leading hierarchs of 

62 The People's History of Ireland 

the Irish Church to Rome, where they explained matters 

About the time that Henry II, in virtue of his descent 
from the Conqueror, through his mother, daughter of 
Henry I, assumed the English crown, the Papal chair was 
occupied by Adrian the Fourth, whose worldly name was 
Nicholas Breakspeare, an Englishman by birth, and the 
only man of that nationality who ever wore the tiara. He, 
too, had been informed by Norman agents of the dis- 
orders in Ireland, where, among other things, it was 
claimed that the people in general had neglected to pay to 
the Papacy the slight tribute known as "Peter's Pence." 
This circumstance, no doubt, irritated the Pontiff, and 
when Henry, who had his ambitious heart set on acquir- 
ing the sovereignty of Ireland, laid open his design, Pope 
Adrian, according to credible authority, gave him a docu- 
ment called a "bull," in which, it would appear, he under- 
took to "bestow" Ireland on the English king, with the 
understanding that he should do his utmost to reform the 
evils in Church and State said to exist in that country, 
and also compel the regular payment of the Papal tribute. 
All of which Henry agreed to do. 

The People's History of Ireland 63 


The Norman- Welsh Invasion of Ireland Their Landing in Wexford 

POPE ADRIAN'S "gift" of Ireland to Henry II, 
absurd as it may appear in this age, was not with- 
out precedent in the Middle Ages, when the Roman 
Pontiff was regarded as supreme arbiter by nearly all 
of Christendom. Such "gifts" had been made before the 
time of Adrian, and some afterward, but they were not 
considered bona fide by the countries involved. So also 
with the Irish people as a majority. They respected, 
as they still respect, the Pope in his spiritual capacity, 
but rightly conceived that he had no power whatever to 
make a present of their country to any potentate, whether 
native or alien, without their consent. An influential 
minority held otherwise, with most unfortunate results, 
as we shall see. Some superzealous Catholic writ- 
ers have sought to discredit the existence of the "bull" 
of Adrian, but weight of evidence is against them, and, 
in any case, it was "confirmed," at Henry's urgent re- 
quest, by Pope Alexander III. The king was engaged 
in civil war with his own sons in every way worthy of 
their rapacious father during most of his reign, for he 
held under his sway Normandy, Aquitaine, and other 
parts of France, which they wanted for themselves. 
Thus no chance to push his long meditated Irish scheme 
presented itself until about A. D. 1168. Fifteen years 
prior to that date, Dermid, or Dermot, MacMurrough 

Ireland 4 Vol. L 

64 The People's History of Ireland 

(Mac Murro), King of Leinster, a very base and dis- 
solute ruler, had carried off the wife of O'Ruarc, Prince 
of Breffni, while the latter was absent on a pious pil- 
grimage. The lady was a willing victim, and added the 
dowry she brought her husband to the treasure of her 
paramour. When Breffni returned to his castle and found 
that his wife had betrayed him, he was overpowered by 
grief and anger, and, not having sufficient military force 
himself to punish his enemy, he called on Turlough Mor 
O'Conor, then titular Ard-Righ, to assist him in chastis- 
ing MacMurrough. O'Conor did so to such purpose 
that, according- to Irish annals, Dervorgilla, which was 
the name of O'Ruarc's wife, together with her dowry, 
was restored to her husband, who, however, discarded 
her, and she died penitent, it is said, forty years after- 
ward in the cloisters of Mellifont Abbey. But Dermid's 
evil conduct did not end with his outrage against O'Ruarc. 
He entertained the most deadly animosity to the O'Conor 
family on account of the punishment inflicted on him by 
Turlough Mor, and when on the death in battle of Ard- 
Righ Murtagh McLaughlin, Roderick, son of Turlough 
Mor, claimed the national crown, MacMurrough refused 
him recognition, although nearly all the other sub-kings 
had acknowledged him as supreme ruler of Ireland. In- 
censed at his stubbornness, King Roderick, who had with 
him O'Ruarc and other princes of Connaught, marched 
against Dermid, who, seeing that he was overmatched, 
burned his palace of Ferns, and, taking to his galley, 
crossed the Irish Sea to England and sought out King 
Henry II at his Court of London. On arriving there 
he was informed that the king was in Aquitaine, and 
thither he at once proceeded. The politic founder of 

The People's History of Ireland 65 

the Plantagenet dynasty received him quite graciously 
and listened complacently to his story. Henry was se- 
cretly well pleased with the treasonable errand of his 
infamous guest, which was to demand Anglo-Norman 
aid against his own monarch, regardless of the after 
consequences to the fortunes of his country. He enumer- 
ated his grievances at the hands of the O' Conors, father 
and son, and related how he had been the faithful ally of 
the former in his long war with one of the Thomond 
O'Briens. Turlough Mor, he considered, had treated him 
badly for the sake of O'Ruarc, and his son, Roderick, 
had been quite as hostile, forcing him to seek Henry's 
protection against further invasion of his hereditary 
patrimony. The Anglo-Norman king said, in reply, that 
he could not aid MacMurrough in person as he was then 
engaged in a war with one or more of his own sons, but 
he consented to give him commendatory letters to certain 
Norman chiefs, brave but needy, who were settled in 
Wales and the West of England, and had there made 
powerful matrimonial alliances. The traitor gladly ac- 
cepted the letters, "did homage" to Henry, and took his 
leave elated at the partial success of his unnatural mis- 
sion. Landing in Wales, he found himself within a 
short time in the presence of Richard De Clare, sur- 
named "Strongbow," a brave, adventurous, and un- 
scrupulous Norman noble, who bore the title of Earl 
of Pembroke. He also made the acquaintance of other 
Norman knights among them Robert Fitzstephen, Mau- 
rice De Prendergast, Maurice Fitzgerald, ancestor of the 
famous Geraldine houses of Kildare and Desmond ; Mey- 
ler FitzHenry and Raymond Le Gros all tried warriors, 
all in reduced circumstances, and all ready and willing 

66 The People's History of Ireland 

to barter their fighting blood for the fair hills and rich 
valleys of Ireland. They listened eagerly while Mac- 
Murrough unfolded his precious plot of treason and black 
revenge. The daring adventurers seized upon the chance 
of fortune at once, and the traitor was sent back to Ire- 
land to prepare his hereditary following for the friendly 
reception of "the proud invaders," his newly made allies. 
Before leaving Wales he had made bargains with the 
alien adventurers which were disgraceful to him as a 
native-born Irishman. In a word, he had, by usurped 
authority, mortgaged certain tracts of the land of Leinster 
for the mercenary aid of the Anglo-Normans, or, to be 
more historically exact, the Norman Welsh. 

Soon after the departure of Dermid for Ireland, Robert 
Fitzstephen, the readiest of the warlike plotters, and the 
first of the invaders, sailed for that country at the head 
of thirty knights, sixty men in armor, and three hundred 
light-armed archers. In the fragrant ides of May, 1169, 
they landed on the Wexford coast, near Bannow, and 
thus, inconsequentially, began the Norman invasion of 
Ireland. De Prendergast arrived the following day with 
about the same number of fighting men. Only a few 
years ago, in removing some debris the accumulation 
of ages near Bannow, the laborers found the traces of 
the Norman camp-fires of 1169 almost perfectly pre- 
served. The two adventurers sent tidings of their arrival 
to MacMurrough without delay, and he marched at once, 
with a powerful force of his own retainers to join them. 
All three, having united their contingents, marched upon 
the city of Wexford, many of whose inhabitants were 
lineal descendants of the Danes. They made a gallant 
defence, but were finally outmanoeuvred, overpowered, 

The People's History of Ireland 67 

and compelled to capitulate. Other towns of less im- 
portance submitted under protest to superior force. In- 
deed there seemed to be a total lack of military foresight 
and preparedness in all that section of Ireland in 1169. 
Fitzpatrick, Prince of Ossory, descended from that ally 
of the Danes who attacked the Dalcassians returning 
from Clontarf, alone opposed to the invaders a brave 
and even formidable front. He committed the mistake 
of accepting a pitched battle with MacMurrough and his 
allies, and was totally defeated. King Roderick O'Conor, 
hearing of the invasion, summoned the Irish military 
bodies to meet him at Tara. Most of them responded, 
but the Prince of Ulidia, MacDunlevy, took offence at 
some remark made by a Connaught prince, and, in con- 
sequence, most of the Ulster forces withdrew from the 
Ard-Righ. King Roderick, with the troops that re- 
mained, marched to attack MacMurrough at his favorite 
stronghold of Ferns, where he lay with the Normans, 
or a part of them, expecting a vigorous siege. Instead 
of assaulting the enemy's lines at once, when his superior 
numbers would, most likely, have made an end of the 
traitor and his Norman allies, O'Conor weakly consented 
to a parley with Dermid, who was a most thorough dip- 
lomat. The Ard-Righ consented, further, to a treaty 
with MacMurrough, who, of course, designed to break 
it as soon as the main body of the Normans, under 
Strongbow in person, should arrive from Wales. He did 
not, nevertheless, hesitate to bind himself by a secret 
clause of the treaty with the king to receive no more 
foreigners into his army, and even gave one of his sons 
as a hostage to guarantee the same. The Ard-Righ re- 
tired from Ferns satisfied that the trouble was ended. 

68 The People's History of Ireland 

The royal army was scarcely out of sight of the place 
when MacMurrough learned that Maurice Fitzgerald, 
at the head of a strong party of Normans, had also ar- 
rived on the Wexford coast. He now thought himself 
strong enough to lay claim to the High Kingship and 
negotiated with the Danes of Dublin for recognition in 
that capacity. Meanwhile, still another Norman con- 
tingent under Raymond Le Gros landed at the estuary 
of Waterford, on the Wexford side thereof, and oc- 
cupied Dundonolf Rock, where they intrenched them- 
selves and eagerly awaited the coming of Strongbow 
with the main body of the Norman army. 

By this time Henry II began to grow jealous of the 
success of his vassals in Ireland. He wanted to conquer 
the country for himself, and, therefore, sent orders to 
Strongbow not to sail. But that hardy soldier paid no 
attention to Henry's belated command, and sailed with 
a powerful fleet and army from Milford Haven, in Wales, 
arriving in Waterford Harbor on August 23, 1171. The 
Normans, under Raymond Le Gros, joined him without 
loss of time, and the combined forces attacked the old 
Danish city. The Danes and native Irish made common 
cause against the new enemy and a desperate and bloody 
conflict occurred. The Normans were several times re- 
pulsed, with great loss, but, better armed and led than 
their brave opponents, they returned to the breach again 
and yet again. At last they gained entrance into the city, 
which they set on fire. An awful massacre ensued. Three 
hundred of the leading defenders were made prisoners, 
their limbs broken and their maimed bodies flung into 
the harbor. King MacMurrough, who had already 
pledged his daughter's hand to Strongbow a man old 

The People's History of Ireland 69 

enough to have been her father arrived just after the 
city fell. In order to celebrate the event with due pomp 
and circumstance, he caused the Princess Eva to be mar- 
ried to the Norman baron in the great cathedral, while 
the rest of the city was burning, and the blood of the 
victims of the assault still smoked amid the ruins! An 
ominous and fatal marriage it proved to Ireland. 

And now, at last, the blood of the native Irish was 
stirred to its depths and they began, when somewhat late, 
to realize the danger to their liberty and independence. 
In those far-off days, when there were no railroads, no 
electric wires, no good roads or rapid means of commu- 
nication of any kind, and when newspapers were un- 
known, information, as a matter of course, traveled slowly 
even in a small country, like Ireland. The woods were 
dense, the morasses fathomless, and, in short, the in- 
vaders had made their foothold firm in the east and 
south portions of the island before the great majority of 
the Celtic Irish comprehended that they were in process 
of being subjugated by bold and formidable aliens. There 
had existed in Ireland from very ancient times five main 
roads, all proceeding from the hill of Tara to the differ- 
ent sections of the country. That called "Dala" ran 
through Ossory into the province of Munster. The road 
called "Assail" passed on toward the Shannon through 
Mullingar. The highway from Tara to Galway followed 
the esker, or small hill range, as it does in our own day, 
and was called "Slighe Mor," or great road; the road 
leading from Tara to Dublin, Bray, and along the Wick- 
low and Wexford coasts was called "Cullin" ; the highway 
leading into Ulster ran, probably, through Tredagh, or 
Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, and Armagh, but this is not 

yo The People's History of Ireland 

positive. As it was the route followed by the English 
in most of their Ulster wars, it is quite probable that they 
picked out a well-beaten path, so as to avoid the expense 
and labor of making- a new causeway. McGee tells us 
that there were also many cross-roads, known by local 
names, and of these the Four Masters, at different dates, 
mentioned no less than forty. These roads were kept in 
repair, under legal enactment, and the main highways 
were required to be of sufficient width to allow of the 
passage of two chariots all along their course. We are 
further informed that the principal roads were required 
by law to be repaired at seasons of games and fairs, and 
in time of war. At their best, to judge by the ancient 
chroniclers, most of them would be considered little better 
than "trails" through the mountains, moors, and for- 
ests in these times. 

MacMurrough and Strongbow did not allow the grass 
to sprout under their feet before marching in great force 
on Dublin. King Roderick, leading a large but ill-trained 
army, attempted to head them off, but was outgeneraled, 
and the enemy soon appeared before the walls of Lein- 
ster's stronghold. Its Dano-Celtic inhabitants, cowed by 
the doleful news from Waterford, tried to parley; but 
Strongbow's lieutenants, De Cogan and Le Gros, eager 
for carnage and rich plunder, surprised the city, and the 
horrors of Waterford were, in a measure, repeated. The 
Danish prince, Osculph, and most of his chief men es- 
caped in their ships, but the Normans captured Dublin, 
and the English, except for a brief period in the reign of 
James II, have held it from that sad day, in October, 
1171, to this. 

Roderick O'Conor, that weak but well-meaning prince 

The People's History of Ireland 71 

and bad general, retired into Connaught and sent word 
to MacMurrough to return to his allegiance, if he wished 
to save the life of his son, held as a hostage. The brutal 
and inhuman traitor refused, and King Roderick, al- 
though humane almost to a fault, had the unfortunate 
young man decapitated. This was poor compensation for 
the loss of Waterford and Dublin. Those pages of Irish 
history are all besmeared with slaughter. 

Many of the Irish chroniclers, who are otherwise se- 
vere on Norman duplicity, relate a story of chivalry, 
worthy of any age and people, in connection with Mau- 
rice de Prendergast and the Prince of Ossory. Strong- 
bow had deputed the former to invite the latter to a 
conference. The Irish prince accepted. While the con- 
ference was in progress, De Prendergast learned that 
treachery was intended toward his guest. He immedi- 
ately rushed into Strongbow's presence and swore on 
the hilt of his sword, which was a cross, that no man 
there that day should lay hands on the Prince of Ossory. 
The latter was allowed to retire unmolested, and Pren- 
dergast and his followers escorted him in safety to his 
own country. De Prendergast has been known ever 
since in Irish annals as "the Faithful Norman," and his 
fidelity has made him the theme of many a bardic song 
and romantic tale. 

72 The People's History of Ireland 


Superior Armament of the Normans Arrival of Henry II 

A LTHOUGH two of the chief Irish cities had fallen 
" to the invaders, the struggle was not entirely aban- 
doned by the Irish nation. Ulster and most of Con- 
naught remained intact, and even in Munster and Lein- 
ster there was, from time to time, considerable, although 
desultory, resistance to the Anglo-Normans. The latter, 
clad in steel armor from head to foot, and possessing 
formidable weapons, had a great advantage over the 
cloth-clad Irish, although, of course, the latter greatly 
outnumbered them. The weapons of the Irish were the 
skian; or short-sword resembling the Cuban machete 
the javelin, and the battle-axe the latter a terrible arm 
at close quarters; but even the axe could not cope with 
the ponderous Norman sword and the death-dealing long 
bow, with its cloth-yard shaft. In discipline and tactics, 
also, the Irish were overmatched. In short, they were 
inferior to their enemies in everything but numbers and 
courage. But all would have been redeemed had they 
but united against the common foe. 

Why they did not may be justly, as we think, attributed 
to the tribal system which taught the clans and tribes 
to be loyal to their particular chiefs rather than to their 
country as a whole; the absence of a fully recognized 
federal head, and the vacillations of an honest and patri- 
otic Ard-Righ, who, noble and amiable of character, as 
he undoubtedly was, proved himself to be a bungling 

The Peop/e's History of Ireland 73 

diplomat and an indifferent general. Had his able and 
determined father, Turlough Mor, been on the Irish 
throne, and in the vigor of his life, when Strongbow 
landed, he would have made short work of the Norman 
filibusters. The king seemed ever behind time in his 
efforts to stem the tide of invasion. He had rallied still 
another army, and gained some advantages, when he was 
confronted by a new enemy in the person of Henry II. 
This king, determined not to be outdone by his vassals, 
had ordered Strongbow, who, because of his marriage 
with Eva MacMurrough, had assumed the lordship of 
Leinster, to return with all his chief captains to England, 
the penalty of refusal being fixed at outlawry. Strong- 
bow attempted to placate the wrathful king and sent to 
him agents to explain his position, but the fierce and 
crafty Plantagenet was not a man to be hoodwinked. He 
collected a powerful fleet and army, set sail from Eng- 
land, in October, 1171, and, toward the end of that month, 
landed in state at Waterford, where Strongbow received 
him with all honor and did homage as a vassal. This was 
the beginning of Ireland's actual subjugation, for had 
the original Norman invaders refused to acknowledge 
Henry's sovereignty, and, uniting with the natives, 
kept Ireland for themselves, they would eventually, 
as in England, have become a component and formidable 
part of the nation, and proved a boon, instead of a curse, 
to the distracted country. The landing of Henry put an 
end to such a hope, and with his advent began that de- 
pendency on the English crown which has been so fatal 
to the liberty, the happiness, and the prosperity of "the 
most unfortunate of nations." 

Henry having "graciouslv" received the submission of 

74 The People's History of Ireland 

Strong-bow and his confederates, proceeded, at once for 
he was a monarch of great energy to make a "royal 
progress" through the partially subdued portions of Mun- 
ster and Leinster. He took care, in doing this, to show 
Pope Adrian's mischievous "bull" to the Irish prelates 
and princes, some of whom, to their discredit be it con- 
fessed, bowed slavishly to the ill-considered mandate of 
the Pontiff. Many of the princes were even base enough 
to give Henry "the kiss of peace," when, instead, they 
should have rushed to arms to defend the honor and in- 
dependence of their country. The prelates, trained to ec- 
clesiastical docility, disgusted with the everlasting civil 
contentions of the country, and fearful of further unavail- 
ing bloodshed, had some feeble excuse for their ill- 
timed acquiescence, but what are we to say of those 
wretched Irish princes who so weakly and wickedly be- 
trayed their nation to the foreign usurper? They were 
by no means ignorant men, as times went, but they were 
ambitious, vain, and jealous .of the half-acknowledged 
authority of High King Roderick, who, poor man, seems 
to have been the Henry VI of Ireland. Those treasonable 
princes deserve enduring infamy, and foremost among 
them were Dermid McCarthy, King of Desmond, and 
Donald O'Brien, King of Thomond. Both lived to regret 
most bitterly their cowardice and treason. 

Henry II was a politic monarch. He flattered the pli- 
able Irish bishops and spoke to them gently about Church 
reforms, while he palavered the despicable Irish princes, 
and, at the same time, pretended to favor the common 
people and affected to check the rapacity of his Norman 
subjects. Hostilities ceased for a time, except on the 
borders of Leinster and Connaught, where King 1 

The People's History of Ireland 75 

Roderick, deserted by many of his allies, and deeply de- 
pressed at the absence of national union against the in- 
vaders, kept up an unavailing resistance. In this he was 
encouraged and aided by the patriotic Archbishop of Dub- 
lin, St. Lorcan OTuhill, who appears to have been the 
only man among the entire Irish hierarchy who compre- 
hended the iron grip the Normans had on the throat of 
Ireland. Had all the prelates been like St. Lorcan, and 
preached a war of extermination against the invaders at 
the outset, Ireland could, undoubtedly, have thrown off 
the yoke, because the princes would have been forced by 
their people, over whom the bishops had great moral 
sway, to heal their feuds and make common cause for 
their country. King Roderick, despite his errors, de- 
serves honor for his patriotic spirit. The Ulster princes, 
too, with few exceptions, stood out manfully against 
the foreigner, and a long period elapsed before the 
Anglo-Norman power found a secure footing amid the 
rugged glens and dense forests of the western and north- 
ern portions of the invaded island. 

Geraldus Cambrensis, or Gerald Barry, a Norman 
priest of Welsh birth, accompanied, A.D. 1185, King 
Henry's son, John, as chronicler, to Ireland. Like 
nearly every man of his race, he hated the native 
Irish, but, occasionally, as if by accident, spoke well of 
some of them. In general, however, his book is a gross 
libel on the Irish Church and the Irish people. He pur- 
ports to give Roderick O'Conor's address to his army 
on the eve of battle with the Anglo-Normans, and the 
concluding words of the speech are alleged to have been 
as follows : "Let us then," said the Irish king, "follow- 
ing the example of the Franks, and fighting bravely for 

76 The People's History of Ireland 

our country, rush against our enemies, and as these for- 
eigners have come over few in numbers, let us crush them 
by a general attack. Fire, while it only sparkles, may be 
speedily quenched, but when it has burst into a flame, 
being fed with fresh materials, its power increases with 
the bulk, and it can not be easily extinguished. It is 
always best to meet difficulties half way, and check the 
first approaches of disease, for (the Latin quotation of 
the king is here translated) 

" 'Too late is medicine, after long delay, 
To stop the lingering course of slow decay. 

Wherefore, defending our country and liberty, and ac- 
quiring for ourselves eternal renown, let us, by a reso- 
lute attack, and the extermination of our enemies, though 
they are but few in number, strike terror into the many, 
and, by their defeat, evermore deter foreign nations from 
such nefarious attempts." 

Henry's astute policy disarmed, for a time, even Rod- 
erick himself. The Anglo-Norman monarch, who would 
have made an admirable modern politician, does not seem 
to have desired the absolute ruin of the Irish nation, but 
his greedy Norman captains were of a different mind, and 
when Henry, after having wined and dined the Irish 
princes to their hearts' content, in Dublin and other 
cities, at last returned to England, in the fall of 1173, the 
Norman leaders showed their teeth to the Irish people, 
and forced most of those who had submitted into fierce 
revolt. As a result, the Norman forces were crushed 
in the field. Strongbow, himself, was shut up in Water- 
ford, and his comrades were similarly placed in Dublin, 
Drogheda, and Wexford. Henry, incensed at this un- 

The People's History of Ireland 77 

looked-for sequel to his Irish pilgrimage, sent over a 
commission to inquire into the facts. The result was 
that an Irish delegation went to London to explain, and, 
at Windsor, where Henry held his court, a treaty was 
entered into, finally, between King Roderick and him- 
self, by which the former acknowledged Henry as "suze- 
rain," and Roderick was recognized as High King of 
Ireland, except the portions thereof held by the Normans 
under Henry. This was a sad ending of Roderick's he- 
roic beginning. As usual with English monarchs, when 
dealing with the Irish people, Henry, urged by his greedy 
dependants in Ireland, soon found means to grossly vio- 
late the Treaty of Windsor, as the compact between the 
representatives of Roderick and himself was called, thus 
vitiating it forever and absolving the Irish nation from 
observing any of its provisions. Another fierce rebellion 
followed, in which the southern and western Irish the 
Anglo-Normans having now grown more numerous and 
powerful were remorselessly crushed. Roderick's ras- 
cally son, Prince Murrough O' Conor, who thought his 
father should be satisfied with the titular High Kingship, 
and that he himself should be King of Connaught, rose 
in revolt and attempted to seize the provincial crown. 
The Connacians, indignant at his baseness, stood by the 
old king. Murrough was defeated and received condign 
punishment. This bad prince must have been familiar 
with the unseemly course pursued by the sons of Henry 
II in Normandy, for he allied himself with his country's, 
and his father's, enemies, the Anglo-Normans, under the 
treacherous De Cogan, and this act, more even than his 
filial impiety, inflamed the minds of his countrymen 
against the unnatural miscreant. King Roderick, un- 

78 The People's History of Ireland 

happy man, whose pride was mortally wounded, and 
whose paternal heart, tender and manly, was wrung with 
sorrow at the crime of his son and its punishment de- 
creed by the Clans and not by himself disgusted, be- 
sides, with the hopeless condition of Irish affairs, made 
up his mind to retire from the world, its pomps and 
vexations. He repaired to the ancient monastery of 
Cong, in Galway, and there, after twelve years of pious 
devotion, on the 29th day of November, 1 198, in the 82d 
year of his age, this good and noble but irresolute mon- 
arch surrendered his soul to God. He was not buried at 
Cong, as some annalists have asserted, but in the chancel 
of the Temple Mor, or Great Church, of Clonmacnois, 
in the present King's County, where he was educated. 
Tradition has failed to preserve the location of the exact 
place of sepulture within the ruined shrine. And so 
ended the last Ard-Righ, or High King, that had swayed 
the sceptre of an independent Ireland. 

King Henry's claim that the Irish Church needed great 
reformation is disproved by the enactments of his own 
reign in that connection, viz.: i. That the prohibition of 
marriage within the canonical degrees of consanguinity 
be enforced. 2. That children should be regularly cate- 
chized before the church door in each parish. 3. That 
children should be baptized in the public fonts of the 
parish churches. 4. That regular tithes should be paid 
to the clergy, rather than irregular donations from time 
to time. 5. That church lands should be exempt from 
the exaction of livery and other burdens. 6. That the 
clergy should not be liable to any share of the eric, or 
blood fine, levied off the kindred of a man guilty of 
homicide. 7. A decree regulating the making of wills. 

The People's History of Ireland 79 

Surely, this was small ground on which to justify the 
invasion of an independent country and the destruction 
of its liberty! 


Prince" John "Lackland" Created "Lord" of Ireland Splendid 
Heroism of Sir Armoricus Tristram 

HENRY II, whatever may have been his original in- 
tentions toward Ireland and the Irish, soon after his 
return to England assumed the tone of a conqueror and 
dictator. He forgot, or appeared to forget, the treaty 
he had concluded with King Roderick's representatives 
at Windsor, which distinctly recognized the tributary 
sovereignty of the Irish monarch, and left the bulk of 
the Irish people under the sway of their own native laws 
and rulers. Now, however, he, in defiance of the com- 
monest law of honor, proclaimed his weakest and worst 
son, the infamous John, "Lord" of Ireland a title re- 
tained by the English kings down to the reign of Henry 
VIII, who, being a wily politician, contrived to get him- 
self "elected" as "King of Ireland." This title remained 
with the English monarchs until January i, 1801, when 
the ill-starred legislative union went into effect, and 
George III of England became king of the so-called 
"United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." 

Henry II died in 1189, preceding the Irish king he 
had so deeply wronged to the grave by about nine years. 
His last hours were doubly imbittered by the discovery 
that his youngest son, John, who was also his favorite, 
and in whom he had concentred all his paternal love 
and confidence, was leagued with his enemies. An able 5 

8o The People's History of Ireland 

but thoroughly bad, man, Henry Plantagenet died a mis- 
erable death his heart rilled with rage against his own 
rebellious offspring, who, no doubt, only practiced the 
perfidious policy inculcated by their miserable father. 
The death scene occurred at Chinon, in Aquitaine, and 
his last words, uttered in the French tongue, and despite 
the vehement protests of the surrounding ecclesiastics, 
were, "Accursed be the day on which I was born, and 
accursed of God be the sons I leave after me!" His 
curse did not fall on sticks and stones. All of his guilty 
sons, except John, died violent and untimely deaths. 
Lackland, the exception, died of an overdose of pears 
and fresh cider, added to grief over the loss of his treas- 
ure, which sunk in a quicksand while he was marching 
with his guard along the English coast. Henry's curse 
remained with the Plantagenets to the end, and most 
of the princes of that family met a horrible doom, from 
Edward II, foully murdered in Berkeley Castle, to the 
last male Plantagenet, of legitimate origin, the Earl of 
Warwick, beheaded by order of Henry VII in 1499. 
Strongbow, Henry's chief tool in the acquirement of 
Ireland, died of a dreadful blood malady, which, the 
doctors said, resembled leprosy, some years before the 
king. He is buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 
and beside him are said to rest the relics of his only son, 
killed by the ferocious father's hand, because he fled 
from the Irish in some border battle. 

Before closing this chapter we may be allowed to re- 
mark that Richard III, when he had his nephews mur- 
dered in the Tower of London, in 1483, came legitimately 
by his cruel nature. John Lackland was the progenitor of 
all the Plantagenets who succeeded him on the English 

The People's History of [reland 81 

throne, and, like his direct descendant, Richard Crook- 
back, was a usurper, because Prince Arthur, son of his 
elder brother, Geoffrey Plantagenet, was lineal heir to 
the throne. History and tradition agree in saying that 
John caused Prince Arthur to be murdered, and some 
historians say that he was the actual murderer. He was 
the only coward of his race, and was, also, frivolous and 
deliberately ill-mannered. When on a visit to Ireland, in 
the supposed interest of his father, he caused a revolt 
among the Irish chiefs who called upon him, by pulling 
their long beards and otherwise insulting them. Those 
cringing chiefs deserved the treatment they received, 
but John Lackland, as he was dubbed, is not, therefore, 
excusable for having acted toward them as a boor and 
a ruffian. Later on, when he became King of England, 
he again visited Ireland, and built many strong castles. 
That of Limerick, called King John's Castle, is still almost 
perfectly preserved, and is a superb relic of Norman mili- 
tary architecture. As the Irish were not provided with 
armament, or appliances, for making a successful siege, 
the fortresses built by King John were, so far as they 
were concerned, virtually impregnable. Whenever the 
Normans were vanquished in the field, they retired to 
their castles, which were amply provisioned, and defied 
the vengeance of their foes. 

In the last year of the reign of Henry II, there oc- 
curred in Ireland one of those memorable combats which 
deserve a lasting place in history, not so much because of 
any important reform or social or political blessing of 
any kind resulting from them, but as tending to show that 
warrior men, in all ages, have often been chivalrous and 
self-sacrificing. The Norman race glorious as has been 

82 The People's History of Ireland 

its record all over Europe and Palestine never evinced 
greater bravery than on the bloody field of Knocktuagh 
(Nockthoo), "the Hill of Axes," in Galway, A.D. 1189. 
Sir John de Courcy, hard pressed in Ulster by the fiercely 
resisting septs of the north, asked aid from his sworn 
friend and comrade, Sir Armoricus Tristram ancestor 
of the family of St. Lawrence, Earls of Howth then 
serving in Connaught. Tristram had with him, accord- 
ing to some accounts, thirty knights, one hundred men- 
at-arms, mounted, and one hundred light-armed infantry ; 
according to other statements, he had under his com- 
mand thirty cavalry and two hundred foot. This force 
Cathal O'Conor, afterward known as "the Red-Handed," 
Prince of the royal house of Connaught a most valiant 
and skilful general, who was younger brother, bom out 
of wedlock, of King Roderick, then virtually in the retire- 
ment of the cloisters of Cong Abbey led into an am- 
bush, and attacked with a superior force. Sir Armoricus 
saw at a glance that escape was hopeless, and that only 
one refuge was left for him and his following to die 
with honor. Some of his horsemen, tradition says, pro- 
posed to cut their way out and leave the infantry to their 
fate. Against this mean proposition Sir Armor's brother 
and other knights vehemently protested. "We have been 
together in many dangers," they said; "now let all of us 
fight and die together." Sir Armor, by way of answer, 
alighted from his steed, drew his sword and, with it, 
pierced the noble charger to the heart. All the other 
horsemen, except two youths, who were detailed to watch 
the fight from a distant hill, and report the result to De 
Courcy in Ulster, immediately followed their glorious 
leader's example. Tradition asserts that the two young 

The People's History of Ireland 83 

men who made their escape, by order, were Sir Armori- 
cus's son and the squire of De Courcy, who brought the 
latter's message to Tristram. Having completed the 
slaughter of their horses, the little band of Normans 
formed themselves in a phalanx, and marched boldly to 
attack the outnumbering Irish. The latter met the shock 
with their usual courage, but the enemy, clad in armor, 
cut their way deeply and fatally into the crowded ranks 
of their cloth-clad foes. The Irish poet, Arthur Gerald 
Geoghegan (Geh'ogan), thus graphically and truthfully 
describes the dreadful encounter : 

"Then rose the roar of battle loud, the shout, the cheer, the cry ! 
The clank of ringing steel, the gasping groans of those who die ', 
Yet onward still the Norman band right fearless cut their way, 
As move the mowers o'er the sward upon a summer's day. 

"For round them there, like shorn grass, the foe in hundreds bleed; 
Yet, fast as e'er they fall, each side, do hundreds more succeed; 
With naked breasts undaunted meet the spears of steel-clad men, 
And sturdily, with axe and skian, repay their blows again. 

"Now crushed with odds, their phalanx broke, each Norman fights 


And few are left throughout the field, and they are feeble grown, 
But high o'er all, Sir Tristram's voice is like a trumpet heard, 
And still, where'er he strikes, the foemen sink beneath his sword. 

"But once he raised his visor up alas, it was to try 

If Hamo and his boy yet tarried on the mountain nigh, 

When sharp an arrow from the foe pierced right through his brain, 

And sank the gallant knight a corse upon the bloody plain. 

"Then failed the fight, for gathering round his lifeless body there, 
The remnant of his gallant band fought fiercely in despair; 
And, one by one, they wounded fell yet with their latest breath, 
Their Norman war-cry shouted bold then sank in silent death." 

When Cathal Mor finally became King of Connaught, 
he caused a monastery, which he called "the Abbey of 

84 The People's History of Ireland 

Victory," but which has been known to the Irish of Con- 
naught for ages as "Abbey Knockmoy," to be erected on 
or near the site of the battle. Tradition, not a very reli- 
able guide, fails to exactly define the scene of Cathal's 
victory over the Normans. Knocktuagh, an inconsiderable 
eminence, is within a few miles of the city of Galway, 
whereas Knockmoy, where stands the historic abbey, is 
fully twelve miles east of that ancient borough, on the 
highroad to Athlone. Cathal of the Red Hand fought 
many battles and won many splendid victories, although 
he occasionally sustained defeats at the hands of the Nor- 
mans and their traitorous native allies; his greatest vic- 
tory was won over his bitter rival, albeit his nephew, 
Caher Carragh O'Conor, whom he encountered some- 
where in the county of Galway. There was an awful 
slaughter on both sides, but Cathal prevailed, and, no 
doubt, built the abbey on the spot where Caher and his 
leading chieftains, Irish and Norman, fell. De Courcy 
was the only foreigner allied with Cathal Mor in this 
great battle. Abbey Knockmoy is one of the most inter- 
esting of Irish ruins, and contains friezes and frescoing 
most creditable to Irish art in the thirteenth century. 
The victory gave Cathal Mor the undisputed sway of 
Connaught. Adopting the policy of the invaders, foi? 
the benefit of his country, he used Norman against Nor- 
man; allied himself with Meyler FitzHenry, the last of 
Strongbow's lieutenants, to punish Connaught's invet- 
erate foe, William de Burgo, ancestor of the Clanricardes 
in Limerick, and to humble the pride of the ambitious 
De Lacys in Leinster. In 1210, this gallant Irish mon- 
arch compelled King John of England to treat with him 
as an independent sovereign, and, while he lived, no 

The People's History of Ireland 85 

Norman usurper dared to lord it over his kingdom of 
Connaught. Like his royal father and brother, he was 
a champion of the Irish Church, and was a liberal founder 
and endower of religious houses. Had the Connacian 
kings who followed been of his moral and military calibre, 
the Normans could never have ruled in Connaught. Nor 
did this great Irishman confine himself to his native 
kingdom alone; he also assisted the other provinces in 
resisting foreign encroachment. Even in his old age, 
when the De Lacys tried to embarrass his reign by for- 
tifying Athleague, so as to threaten him in flank, the 
dauntless hero, at the head of his hereditary power, 
marched from his palace of Ballintober, made two cross- 
ings of the river Suck, and, by a bold manoeuvre, came on 
the rear of the enemy, compelling them to retreat in all 
haste across the Shannon into Leinster. He did not fail 
to raze their forts at Athleague to the ground. This was 
the last of his countless exploits. His time was drawing 
nigh, and, according to the Four Masters, "signs ap- 
peared in the heavens" which foretold his death. In 
1223, Cathal's load of age and care became too heavy, 
and he resigned the crown of Connaught to his son, Hugh. 
The old king, assuming the habit of the Franciscans, re- 
tired to the Abbey of Knockmoy, and there expired, 
mourned by his country and respected by its enemies, 
A.D. 1224. Tradition still points to his tomb amid the 
majestic ruins of that venerable pile. His death was the 
signal for the rise of Norman power in Connaught, and 
for the final deposition by the alien De Burgos of the 
royal race of O'Conor. 

86 The People's History of Ireland 


Ireland Under the Earlier Edwards The Younger Bruce Elected 

King by the Irish Battle of Athenry Death of Bruce 

at Faughart Hill 

AFTER the death of King John, affairs in Ireland 
proceeded tamely enough until the repeated encroach- 
ments of the Anglo-Norman settlers and their progeny, 
who occupied chiefly a comparatively small district called 
"the Pale," which consisted of most of the present coun- 
ties of Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Kildare, and 
Kilkenny, forced the native Irish to rise "in rude but 
fierce array" against them. The Norman family of 
De Lacy disputed supremacy in Leinster with the Fitz- 
geralds, or Geraldines, but the latter, finally, outshone 
their rivals both in court and camp. The De Courcys, 
headed by the bold and chivalrous Sir John, "of that 
ilk," made some impression on the coast of Ulster. The 
De Burgos, ancestors of all the Irish Burkes, became pow- 
erful in Connaught, and the old Irish, headed by the 
O'Conors, fought against them fiercely from time to time. 
But the gallant, if covetous, Norman captains beheld the 
Irish maidens, and saw that they were fair. Love-mak- 
ing, despite frequent feuds, progressed between Norman 
lord and Celtic virgin; and not uncommonly between 
Irish prince and Norman lady. Many "mixed mar- 
riages*' resulted, and, naturally, racial animosities became 
greatly softened, "for love will still be lord of all." 
Very soon the warrior Normans, who acknowledged but 

The People's History of Ireland 87 

a doubtful allegiance to the English monarch, began to 
assume Irish manners, wear the Irish costume, and speak 
in the Gaelic tongue. All this did not suit the English 
policy, and the Norman Irish were often described by 
their kindred across the sea as "Degenerate English." 
It was written of the Fitzgeralds, in particular, that they 
had grown "more Irish than the Irish." This alarmed 
England, for it began to look as if Norman and Celt in 
Ireland would soon make common cause against her 
power. But many Norman chiefs were land hungry, 
and many of the Irish princes were fierce and filled with 
a just wrath against their invaders. Gradually, there- 
fore, the Geraldines swept all before them in Kildare 
and Desmond, for they were very warlike, and many 
native Irish joined their fortunes to theirs, because of 
"fosterage" and other interests. The Butlers possessed 
themselves of large tracts of country in the present coun- 
ties of Kilkenny and Tipperary, and became Earls of 
Ormond; and the De Burgos, as Earls of Clanricarde, 
became, in great part, masters of Galway, Mayo, and 
other parts of the province of Connaught. Factions 
among the Celtic chiefs made their conquests easy. The 
Normans, wily as they were brave, fostered these feuds, 
and were particularly delighted when the formidable 
O'Neills and O'Donnells of Ulster wasted their strength 
in internecine strife. The politic foreigners occasion- 
ally allied themselves to either one of the contending 
septs, and generally succeeded in outwitting both con- 
testants. Yet, as time wore on, the Norman warriors, 
forgetting their fathers' speech, shouted their battle cries 
in the Gaelic tongue, and, except for their armor, could 
hardly be distinguished from the Celts. 

Ireland 5 VoL L. 

88 The People's History of Ireland 

Henry III paid but small attention to Irish affairs. 
He ascended the English throne a minor, and his mature 
years were spent mainly in repeated civil wars with his 
barons, who finally compelled him to extend and confirm 
the Magna Charta of his father. His son, Edward I, 
nicknamed "Long Shanks," the ablest king of the Plan- 
tagenet race, was almost constantly occupied, during his 
stirring reign, in wars of conquest against Wales and 
Scotland, and he succeeded in annexing the first-named 
country to the English crown. His son and successor, 
Edward II, was the first English Prince of Wales. This 
Edward inherited the Scotch war which his father had 
left unfinished, after great effusion of blood. In 1314, 
his great English army, said to have numbered 100,000 
knights, archers, and men-at-arms, was disastrously 
routed at Bannockburn ("Oaten-cake rivulet"), near 
Sterling, by King Robert Bruce, of Scotland, who had 
under his command not more than 30,000 men, horse and 
foot. This great victory did not entirely end the Anglo- 
Scotch wars, which were always bitter and bloody down 
to the close of the sixteenth century, but it preserved the 
independence of Scotland for nearly four hundred years. 
That country ceased to be a separate nation in 1707. 
Many Irish clans of Ulster aided Bruce at Bannockburn, 
and some Connaught septs, under one of the O'Conors, 
fought on the English side, and were nearly extermi- 
nated, which "served them right." As the Irish princes 
could not settle on one of their own number for High 
King, they, at the suggestion of the wise and generous 
Donald O'Neill, King of Ulster, agreed to elect Edward 
Bruce, brother of the Scotch monarch, king of all Ire- 
land. Their proffer of the Irish throne was accepted by 

The People's History of Ireland 89 

the Bruces, and Edward was duly crowned in 1315. 
This provoked a destructive three years' war. Brave 
King Robert came to Ireland to aid his brother, and, in 
the field, they swept all before them, particularly in 
Munster. But the Norman-Irish fought them bitterly, 
notably the Geraldines, the Berminghams, and De Burgos. 
Felim O'Conor, the young and gallant king of Connaught, 
was forced into a repugnant alliance with De Burgo, 
who was powerful in the west. His heart, however, was 
with the Bruce, and he soon found an opportunity to 
break away from his repugnant Norman ally. Sum- 
moning all his fighting force, he marched upon the forti- 
fied town of Athunree, or Athenry, "the Ford of the 
Kings," in Gal way, and came up with the Anglo-Norman 
army, arrayed outside the walls, on the morning of Au- 
gust 10, 1316. De Burgo and De Bermingham, two able 
veteran soldiers, headed the Anglo-Normans. The con- 
flict was fierce and the slaughter appalling, particularly 
on the Irish side, because the heroic clansmen did not 
have, like their foes, the advantage of chain armor and 
long-bow archery. Night closed upon a terrible scene. 
The Irish refused to fly and died in heaps around the life- 
less body of their chivalric young king, who, with twenty- 
eight princes of his house, proudly fell on that bloody 
field. Most of the Irish army perished the loss being 
usually estimated at 10,000 men. The Anglo-Normans 
also suffered severely, but their armor proved the salva- 
tion of most of them. Connaught did not recover from 
this great disaster for many generations. Athenry proved 
fatal to the cause of Bruce, although, gallantly seconded 
by Donald O'Neill, he fought on for two years longer, 
but was at last killed in battle on Faughart Hill, in Louth, 

90 The People's History of Ireland 

A.D. 1318. With him disappeared, for that century at 
least, the hope of an independent Ireland. 

After the battle of Athenry, the power of the De 
Burgo family, and of all the allies of their house, be- 
came predominant in Connaught, but all these Anglo- 
Norman chiefs became, also, much more Irish in manners 
and sympathy than they had ever been before. The des- 
perate bravery displayed by O'Conor's clansmen had 
aroused the admiration of those born warriors, and they 
felt that to ally themselves in marriage with so martial 
a race was an honor, not a degradation, such as the 
English sought to make it appear. Ulster maintained 
its independence, and so also did much of Connaught and 
portions of Munster and Leinster, and there were peri- 
odical raids upon the Pale and carrying off of "Saxon" 
flocks and herds, followed by feasts and general jubila- 
tion. The Palesmen, whenever too weak to meet the 
Celts in the field, would resort to their time-honored 
strategy of shutting themselves up in their strongholds, 
and making, whenever opportunity offered, fierce retalia- 
tory raids on the Irish territory. This kind of warfare 
was unfortunate for Ireland, because it kept the English 
feeling strong in the hearts of the Palesmen, who were 
constantly recruited by fresh swarms of adventurers from 
England. Outside of the Pale, however, the Old Irish 
and the Normans continued to affiliate and intermarry, 
as we have already said. Fosterage a peculiarly Irish 
custom, which meant that the children of the king, prince, 
or chief should be nursed by the wives of the clansmen, 
instead of their own mothers grew apace, and nearly 
every Norman lord had his heirs suckled by the women 
of the Celtic race, thus creating a bond of "kinship" 

The People's History of Ireland 91 

if so it may be termed in many instances stronger than 
even the brotherhood of blood. 

Irish tradition abounds in examples of the devotion of 
foster-brethren to each other; and in all written history 
there is given but one instance of treachery in this con- 
nection, and that instance does not involve a man of 
Celtic, but of Latin, lineage. We refer to the betrayal 
of Lord Thomas Fitzgerald by Parez in the reign of 
Henry VIII, which will be dealt with in the proper place. 


Prince Lionel Viceroy for Edward III The Statute of Kilkenny 

EDWARD III, that valiant, vigorous, and ambitious 
"English" king he was almost a pure-blooded 
Frenchman and about the last Norman monarch who 
occupied the throne of England that did not speak with 
fluency the language of the people he governed was so 
occupied with his unjust wars against France that he 
gave but small heed to Irish affairs and never visited the 
island at all. But he sent over his third son, Prince 
Lionel, ancestor of the royal house of York and Clarence, 
as viceroy. Lionel had with him a well-equipped army of 
native-born English, but he treated his Anglo-Irish allies 
so contemptuously that many fell away from him and 
joined the ranks of the Old Irish. His English army, 
unaccustomed to the Irish climate and mode of warfare, 
made but a poor figure in the field, and was everywhere 
beaten by the dauntless Irish clansmen. At last he was 
compelled to lower his imperious tone to the Anglo-Irish 
and these foolishly helped him out of his scrape. It is 

92 The People's History of Ireland 

said that a more than doubtful campaign in the present 
county of Clare procured for him, from his flatterers, 
the title of Duke of Clarence a title, by the way, which 
brought more or less misfortune to every English prince 
who has borne it, except William IV, from his day to 
our own. 

Lionel was particularly jealous of the friendship which 
seemed to exist between old Anglo-Irish and the old 
Celtic-Irish, and his small mind conceived a method of 
putting an end to it. He summoned a parliament to meet 
at Kilkenny, and there it was enacted, among other 
things, "that all intermarriages, fosterings, gossipred, 
and buying or selling with the (Irish) enemy shall be 
accounted treason; that English names, fashions, and 
manners (most of these having disappeared) shall be 
resumed under penalty of confiscation of the delinquent's 
lands; that March laws (Norman) and Brehon laws 
(Irish) are illegal, and that there shall be no laws but 
English laws; that the Irish shall not pasture their cattle 
on English lands; that the English shall not entertain 
Irish rhymers, minstrels, or newsmen, and, moreover, 
that no 'mere Irishman' shall be admitted to any ecclesi- 
astical benefice or religious house (England was then all 
Catholic) situated within the English district." 

Other provisions of the Statute of Kilkenny, as this 
precious "law" is called in Irish history, forbade the 
wearing of long hair, mustaches, and cloaks, after the 
manner of the Irish, and the use of the Gaelic speech 
was also forbidden, under heavy penalties. With their 
usual subserviency to English demands, the Anglo-Irish 
barons of the Pale the portion of Ireland held by the 
English settlers, as already explained passed this bar- 

The People's History of Ireland 93 

barous enactment without opposition, although they 
themselves were the chief "offenders" against it, in the 
eyes of the tyrannical viceroy. 

To the honor of the Anglo-Normans and Celtic-Irish 
be it remembered, the base statute became almost imme- 
diately inoperative, and the Norman lords and Irish 
ladies, and the Irish princes and the Norman ladies, in- 
termarried more numerously than before an example 
generally followed by their dependants. The gallant 
house of Fitzgerald, or Geraldine, as usual, set the ex- 
ample of disregard. 

"These Geraldines! These Geraldines! Not long her air they 


Not long they fed on venison in Irish water seethed 
Not often had their children been by Irish mothers nursed, 
When from their full and genial hearts an Irish feeling burst! 
The English monarch strove in vain, by law and force and bribe, 
To win from Irish thoughts and ways this 'more than Irish' tribe; 
For still they clung to fosterage to Brehon, cloak, and bard 
No king dare say to Geraldine : 'Your Irish wife discard !' " 

The immediate effect of the Statute of Kilkenny was 
to temporarily unite most of the Irish clans against the 
common enemy. They fell fiercely upon the Pale and 
again shut up the Normans in their fortresses. Prince 
Lionel returned to England grieved and humiliated. His 
viceroyalty had been a signal failure. 

Throughout the viceroyalty of Clarence and his suc- 
cessor, William de Windsor, the desultory war between 
the Old Irish and the Anglo-Normans made many dis- 
tricts, in all the provinces, red with slaughter. The power 
of the De Burgos declined in Connaught after the death 
of the warlike Red Earl, who was the scourge of the 
O' Conors, and the latter family brought his descendants, 

94 "The People's History of Ireland 

who had assumed the name of Mac William, under their 
sway. The fierce tribes of Wicklow, Wexford, and Car- 
low harried the Pale, and were frequently joined by the 
O' Mores of Leix, and the Fitzpatricks of Ossory. In 
Ulster, Niel O'Neill, Prince of Tyrone, attacked and de- 
feated the English armies and garrisons with so much 
success that he cleared Ulster of all foreigners, and won 
the title of Niel the Great. The Earl of Desmond met 
with a severe defeat at the hands of O'Brien, Prince of 
Thomond, who assailed him near the abbey of Adare 
in Limerick, and routed his army with terrible carnage. 
Desmond himself was mortally wounded and died upon 
the field. The Earl of Kildare, Desmond's kinsman, at- 
tempted to avenge his rout, but met with scant success, 
because the Irish had, by this time, grown used to the 
Norman method of warfare, and, in many cases, im- 
proved upon the tactics of their oppressors. 

Edward III, just before his death in 1376, attempted 
to get the settlements of the Pale to send representatives 
to London to consult about the affairs of Ireland, but they 
demurred, saying that it was not their custom to delib- 
erate outside of their own country. However, they sent 
delegates to explain matters to the king, who did not 
further insist on convening a Pale Parliament in the 
English capital. It is strange that so able a monarch 
as Edward was, even in his declining years, never thought 
of visiting Ireland. Of course, most of his reign was 
taken up with the wars in France, in which he proved 
so signally victorious, and he had but little time for other 
occupations. In truth, Edward III, although nominally 
English, was, in reality, a Frenchman in thought and 
speech, and his dearest dream was to rule over the 

The People's History of Ireland 95 

country of his Plantagenet ancestors, with England as a 
kind of tributary province. Of course, the English peo- 
ple would never have acquiesced in this arrangement, for, 
however willing to impose their yoke on other peoples, 
they are unalterably opposed to having any foreign yoke 
imposed upon themselves. 

Richard II's Invasions Heroic Art MacMurrough 

'""PHE first half of the fourteenth century passed 
A away quietly enough in Ireland, except for occa- 
sional conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the 
Celtic tribes, or an odd encounter of the latter with one 
another. Edward III had so many quarrels with Scot- 
land and France that he could do nothing in Ireland, 
even were he so inclined, and the sad experience of the 
Duke of Clarence in that country warned succeeding 
viceroys to let well enough alone. The Irish nation, 
Celtic, Norman, and Saxon, was gradually fusing and 
would soon have developed a composite strength nearly 
equal to that of England herself. In the wars with 
France, many Anglo-Irish septs fought under the orders 
of Edward, and, probably, some of the Celtic septs also 
joined his standard, rather as allies, through the bad 
policy of their chiefs, than as mercenaries. 

By the time that Edward completed, or nearly so, the 
conquest of France, the English power in Ireland had 
so shrunken as to be almost nominal. Dublin, Drogheda, 
Kilkenny, and Waterford were the chief garrisons of the 
English. The Lacys, Burkes, Fitzgeralds, and other 

96 The People's History of Ireland 

Norman-Irish houses and clans were scarcely to be dis- 
tinguished from the Milesian families and septs. Such 
fighting as they indulged in between themselves was 
comparatively trivial. The island, blessed with partial 
peace, began to grow more populous and prosperous. 
Edward, the Black Prince, having crowned himself with 
glory in France, died before he could inherit the crown 
of England. Edward III, not so old as worn out by 
ceaseless warfare, died in 1377, and after him came to 
the English throne Richard, son of the Black Prince, a 
handsome boy of sixteen, who, at first, gave promise of 
great deeds, but who subsequently proved himself a weak- 
ling and voluptuary. In Ireland, Ulster, Connaught, and 
Munster remained tranquil for the most part, but, in 
Leinster, the royal house of MacMurrough lineal de- 
scendants of the traitor of Strongbow's time showed 
a determination to drive the remnant of the English gar- 
rison into the sea. They were as loyal to Ireland as their 
accursed ancestor had been faithless. King Art I, after 
a long series of successes and failures, died, and was suc- 
ceeded on the Leinster throne by King Art II one of the 
bravest, wisest, and truest characters in Irish history. 
He continued the war his father had begun. Richard II, 
like all of his race, was vain and greedy of military glory. 
As the war with France had closed for a period, he 
thought Ireland a good field in which to distinguish him- 
self as a general. He had heard of "MacMore," as he 
called MacMurrough, and longed to measure swords with 
him. Accordingly, in the summer of 1394, he landed 
at Waterford with a large army. The historian McGee 
estimates it at 35,000 horse and foot, but we are in- 
clined to think it was much less. That it was formidable, 

The People's History of Ireland 97 

for those times, all historians who have dealt with the 
subject are agreed upon. He was accompanied, also, by 
a large retinue of nobility, among them Roger Mortimer, 
the young Earl of March, who, because of the childless- 
ness of Richard, was heir to the British throne, through 
descent from the Duke of Clarence, in the female line. 
Richard did not wait long in Waterford, but proceeded on 
his march to Dublin, unfurling the banner of Edward the 
Confessor, for whom the Irish were supposed to have a 
deep veneration. MacMurrough, however, showed scant 
courtesy to the Confessor's ensign, not because it was the 
banner of a saint, but because, for the time, it repre- 
sented the rapacity of England. Richard was met boldly 
at every point. His bowmen got tangled up in the woods. 
His horsemen floundered in the bogs. MacMurrough's 
army hovered in his front, on his flanks, and in rear. 
Not a single success did the English monarch gain. He 
summoned MacMurrough to a conference when he 
reached Dublin having lost a third of his army while 
en route and the Leinster king, having accepted the in- 
vitation, was ruthlessly thrown into prison. After a 
time, a treaty of some kind was patched up between King 
Richard and himself, and the Irish prince was allowed to 
go free. Richard then returned to England, leaving 
Roger Mortimer in command. Soon afterward, Mac- 
Murrough, objecting to the English encroachments in his 
territory, again rose in arms. He encountered Mortimer 
and the English army on the banks of the King's River at 
Kenlis or Kells in Westmeath, and utterly routed them. 
England's heir-apparent was among the slain. This cir- 
cumstance had much to do with bringing about the bloody 
Wars of the Roses in the succeeding century. 

98 The People's History of Ireland 

About this time Art MacMurrough and his chief bard, 
who, as was then the Irish custom, accompanied his pa- 
tron everywhere, were invited to a banquet by one of the 
Norman lords, who treacherously pretended friendship. 
The invitation was accepted. While seated at a window 
of the banquet-hall, the bard perceived a mustering of 
troops around the castle, and at once seized his harp and 
struck the chords to an ancient Irish air. The Gaelic 
words which accompanied the measure fell upon the ears 
of Art MacMurrough and warned him of his danger. 
His sword and buckler hung near by. On some trivial 
pretext, he arose and seized them, the bard having, mean- 
while, armed himself. The two made a sudden onslaught 
and, surprising their foes, cut their way to the court- 
yard, where, fortunately, their horses still stood. They 
sprang upon them, and, before the astonished men-at- 
arms could rally, made good their escape. Art Mac- 
Murrough never again trusted the English, and remained 
their consistent foe to his latest hour. 

But King Richard, maddened by the death of Morti- 
mer, which he felt was dangerous to himself, raised an- 
other great army, and, in 1398, again invaded Ireland. 
He was accompanied by a younger son of his uncle, John 
of Gaunt, "time-honored Lancaster," and also by Prince 
Henry, eldest son of Henry of Hereford and afterward 
Henry V, the hero of Agincourt. The boy was only in 
his twelfth year, but well grown and brave as a lion. In 
the first encounter with the formidable MacMurrough, 
in the glens of Carlow, he so distinguished himself that 
Richard II knighted him on the field. This march from 
Waterford to Dublin proved, in the end, even more dis- 
astrous than the former one. MacMurrough kept up 

The People's History of Ireland 99 

his harassing tactics, as usual. The rain poured down 
in torrents. The Irish drove all the cattle away from 
the English line of march, and destroyed the growing 
crops. Nearly all the baggage-animals of the invading 
force died for want of forage, and the army was in a 
state of famine and revolt, when it finally reached the 
seacoast near the present town of Arklow, where some 
English ships, laden with provisions, saved it from actual 
starvation. The remnant made its way to Dublin, where 
other disastrous news awaited King Richard. Henry 
of Hereford, eldest son of John of Gaunt, whom he had 
unjustly exiled, and whose lands he had seized, now, on 
the death of his father, having become Duke of Lancas- 
ter, came back from the continent, having heard of Rich- 
ard's misfortunes in Ireland, and laid claim to the crown. 
Richard, after ordering young Prince Henry and his 
uncle to be imprisoned in the castle of Trim still one of 
the finest Norman keeps in Ireland set sail for Eng- 
land. Henry, who had by this time raised a large army, 
made him prisoner and sent him to Pontefract Castle, in 
Yorkshire, where, soon afterward, he was starved to 
death, or otherwise foully made away . with. Prince 
Henry and his uncle were immediately released when 
the Duke of Lancaster ascended a usurped throne as 
Henry IV of England. And thus was laid the bloody 
foundation of the dreadful after wars between the rival 
royal houses of York and Lancaster, which ended in the 
extermination of the legitimate Plantagenets. An ille- 
gitimate branch, directly descended from John of Gaunt, 
still survives in the ducal house of Beaufort. 

Art MacMurrough remained a conqueror to the end, 
and kept up the war with the Normans. In 1404, he de- 

ioo The People's History of Ireland 

feated at Athcroe (Ford of Slaughter), near Dublin, 
Lord Thomas of Lancaster, brother of the king, putting 
most of the English to the sword, and desperately wound- 
ing the prince himself. Only a few years ago, Irish la- 
borers, excavating for a railroad at Athcroe, came upon 
nearly a thousand bent swords, some of them badly de- 
composed by rust, buried in the river bed. They were 
the swords taken from the dead English, in 1404, and 
bent across the knees of the victorious Irish, according 
to their custom in those days. 

MacMurrough's career of glory continued until 1417, 
when, having captured all the important towns of Lein- 
ster, except Dublin and Drogheda, he died at his capital 
of New Ross then the second city in Ireland as some 
say by poison, in the sixtieth year of his age and forty- 
fourth of his reign. Taken for all in all, he was not alone 
the bravest, but the ablest, of Irish princes and warriors 
since the days of King Brian, and it was a sad day for 
Ireland when the word went through Leinster and rang 
around the island that King Art was dead. Many a dark 
generation passed away before such another chief, or 
any one worthy to be mentioned as a rival of his fame, 
arose in that unfortunate land. 

The People's History of Ireland 101 


Ireland During the Wars of the Roses 

AFTER the premature death of Henry IV, an able 
but unscrupulous sovereign, in 1413, the attention 
of England was again directed to the conquest of France 
by the chivalrous and skilful Henry V. His capture of 
Harfleur and marvelous victory of Agincourt, against 
overwhelming odds, in 1415, stamp him as one of the 
world's great military leaders. During the nine years of 
his reign, he succeeded in subduing France, and, finally, 
married Catherine, heiress of Charles VI, an almost im- 
becile king, and had himself declared regent and next in 
succession to the throne after his father-in-law. France 
was stupefied, but God, infinitely stronger than French 
arms, decreed Henry's early death. He died in the con- 
quered country in 1422, leaving an only son, Henry VI, 
an infant of nine months, to succeed him, under the re- 
gency of his uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who, 
for a wonder, considering the history of the Plantage- 
nets, remained faithful to his trust. John, Duke of Bed- 
ford, a younger brother of Henry, and a very brilliant 
soldier, became regent of France. This was the period 
of the inspired peasant-girl, Joan of Arc, whose story of 
victory and death belongs to the history of France, al- 
though, after having performed prodigies, she died at the 
stake to which the English, into whose hands she had 
fallen, condemned her. The Dauphin, as Charles VII, 
succeeded to his legitimate throne, and, about 1453, the 

IO2 The People's History of Ireland 

English were expelled from France, except the old town 
of Calais, which remained in their possession until 1558. 
In Ireland, meanwhile, the chief feuds were those be- 
tween the Geraldines and the Butlers and the De Burgos 
and the Connaught chiefs. There were also minor feuds 
in different parts of the island, but, as a rule, the Irish 
people had things pretty much their own way, and might 
have thrown off the English yoke utterly, if they had had 
an Edward Bruce or Art MacMurrough to arouse and 
lead them to victory. Unfortunately they had not, and, 
as the English fetter was very light on Ireland during 
the Wars of the Roses, which began in 1455, they imag- 
ined, perhaps, that the old enemy, having plenty of right- 
ing to do on their own account, might leave them alone 
for evermore a vain hope if it were seriously enter- 

After an interval of six years, the Wars of the Roses 
so-called because the red rose was the badge of the 
House of Lancaster and the white that of the House of 
York broke out more violently than before, because Hen- 
ry VI, who had been declared imbecile and unfit to reign, 
suddenly recovered his intellect, and Richard Plantag- 
enet, Duke of York, who claimed a prior right to the 
throne, and had been appointed Regent, with the right 
of succession, refused to give up his authority. Henry 
had a son by his brave wife, Margaret of Anjou. He 
might be called a weakling, but she summoned the peo- 
ple to defend the rights of her son. York was defeated, 
captured, and beheaded at Wakefield, in 1461, but his 
son Edward, Earl of March, routed the queen's army im- 
mediately afterward and ascended the throne as Edward 
IV. Struggle succeeded struggle, but the House of 

The People's History of Ireland 103 

York achieved a crowning triumph at Tewkesbury and 
again at Barnet Heath, where Warwick, the King Maker, 
fell. The direct male line of the House of Lancaster 
perished at Tewkesbury, where, it is alleged, the gallant 
Prince Edward, son of Henry VI, was murdered, after 
having been made prisoner, by-Edward IV and George, 
Duke of Clarence the same afterward drowned in a 
butt of wine by order of his cruel brother. King Ed- 
ward IV, after a reign of twenty-two years, marked 
by slaughter of his foes and some of his friends, no- 
torious immorality, and swinish debauchery, died of a 
fever brought on by his excesses, in 1483, and his vile 
younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester, succeeded the 
boy king, Edward V, by process of murder, in the same 
year. The last battle of the Wars of the Roses was 
fought at Bos worth, near Leicester, August 22, 1485. 
Richard, last king of the Plantagenet family, fell and was 
succeeded by his rival, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, 
descended, in the female line, from John of Gaunt, who 
ascended the throne as Henry VII. 

Thus, you will see, Ireland was left pretty much to her- 
self, during those thirty years of English civil war, in 
which twelve murderous pitched battles were fought. 
Most of the old nobility were killed in battle or executed, 
or otherwise destroyed, and more than one hundred 
thousand Englishmen of the middle and lower classes 
were immolated on the smoking altars of family pride 
and savage ambition. Every prince of the race of Plan- 
tagenet was exterminated when, in 1599, Henry VII 
ordered the beheading of the young Earl of Warwick, 
son of the Duke of Clarence. Many of the Anglo-Irish 
lords and their followings took part in the English wars, 

IO4 The People's History of Ireland 

mainly on the side of the House of York, and the Geral- 
dines, in particular, got sadly mixed up in them, for 
which they suffered amply in after days. No reigning 
king of England had set foot in Ireland since Richard 
II sailed to his death from Dublin, and Henry VII 
proved to be no exception to the rule. He, however, in- 
terfered in the quarrel between the Fitzgeralds and the 
Butlers as bitter and prolonged as that between the 
Camerons and Campbells in Scotland and made the Earl 
of Kildare viceroy. The Desmonds, the powerful south- 
ern branch of the Geraldines, were also eternally at 
variance with the Butlers. It is related that, on one occa- 
sion, the Earl of Desmond was wounded and made pris- 
oner. While being borne on a litter to Butler's strong- 
hold, one of the bearers insolently and brutally demanded, 
"Where is the great Earl of Desmond now ?" To which 
the heroic captive immediately replied "Where he ought 
to be" (alluding to the litter in which he was carried by 
his foes) : "still on the necks of the Butlers!" 

The most memorable event of Henry VIFs reign, as 
far as Ireland was concerned, was the coming over from 
England of Sir Edward Poynings, as Lord Deputy dur- 
ing the temporary retirement of Kildare. The English 
colonists of the Pale, almost from their first settlement 
of that district, possessed an independent parliament, 
modeled on that of England. It was, in general, op- 
pressive toward the Celtic-Irish, but made good laws 
enough for the Palesmen. Poynings, soon after his ar- 
rival, called this parliament to assemble at Drogheda and 
there (1495) the Statute of Kilkenny was reaffirmed, 
except as regarded the prohibition of Gaelic, which had 
come into general use, even in the Pale itself. The 

The People's History of Ireland 105 

main enactment the first uttered in the English tongue 
in Ireland was that known as 10 Henry VII, otherwise 
Poynings' Law, which provided that no legislation should 
be, thereafter, proceeded with in Ireland unless the bills 
were first submitted for approval or rejection to the 
monarch and privy council of England. In case of ap- 
proval they were to be attested by the great seal of the 
English realm. It was, to be sure, a most unjust and 
insolent measure, and it seems almost incredible that even 
the Pales people mere hybrids, neither English nor Irish 
should have tamely submitted to its infamous pro- 
visions. It remained in force 287 years, or until 1782, 
when it was repealed under circumstances that will ap- 
pear hereafter. 

The close of this reign witnessed a bloody struggle 
between the Kildares and Clanricardes, in which many 
Celtic tribes also bore a part, and in which thousands of 
men lost their lives to no good purpose. In the two 
principal battles, those of Knockdoe and Monabraher 
(1507-10), artillery and musketry were first made use of 
on Irish soil. 

As most of the Irish Palesmen, including the House 
of Kildare, were partisans of the House of York dur- 
ing the Wars of the Roses, the two pretenders prepared 
by Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward 
IV, to impersonate, respectively, Edward, Earl of War- 
wick, only son and heir of the late Duke of Clarence, 
and Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward 
IV, who was murdered in the Tower, by order, it is 
said, of his base uncle, Richard III, together with his 
brother, the boy-king, Edward V found adherents when 
they landed on Irish soil. Indeed, Lambert Simnel, the 

io6 The People's History of Ireland 

first of these pretenders, a handsome young English- 
man, who resembled the princes of the House of York, 
was crowned king, as "Edward VI," in Christ Church 
Cathedral, Dublin. Many Pales Irish followed him to 
England, where Henry VII defeated and made him pris- 
oner. The real Warwick was taken from the Tower and 
paraded through the streets a sad spectacle of physical 
comeliness marred, and intellect clouded, by long and 
harsh confinement. Having been sufficiently exhibited 
to satisfy the public of Simnel's imposture, the poor boy 
was returned to his cell. Simnel, himself, was made a 
"turnspit" in the royal kitchen, afterward raised to the 
post of falconer, and ended his days in that humble posi- 
tion. The second pretender, Perkin Warbeck, % Belgian 
by birth, had less support from Ireland than h|s prede- 
cessor, but involved some of the nobles of the Pale with 
King Henry. But his adherents, remembering the impo- 
sition of 'the bogus Edward VI, soon fell away, and 
Perkin went to Scotland, where James IV received him, 
as if he were a genuine prince, and gave him his cousin, 
the lovely Lady Catherine Gordon, in marriage. Peace 
being concluded between James and Henry, Warbeck 
and his beautiful bride went to Cornwall. There the 
pretender, who was really a man of noble presence and 
great ability, rallied 3,000 men to his standard. Suc- 
cessful at first, he proved himself a false Plantagenet 
by basely deserting his confiding followers on the eve 
of decisive battle. He shut himself up in the sanctuary 
of Beaulieu, in the New Forest, but soon surrendered 
himself, and was shown by the king to the populace of 
London. He was well treated for a time, but his posi- 
tion was mortifying. He ran off to another sanctuary, 

The People's History of Ireland 107 

was again forced to give himself up, was placed in the 
public stocks, confessed he was an impostor, and was 
finally sent to the Tower, to keep company with the 
unhappy Warwick. This circumstance enabled the crafty 
Henry to get up 'a so-called plot, of which it was easy 
to convict two helpless prisoners. Warwick last male 
of the Plantagenets lost his head on Tower Hill, and 
Warbeck died by the rope at Tyburn. His charming 
widow became lady-in-waiting to the Queen. 

Many abbeys and monasteries were built in Ireland 
during this comparatively tranquil period, and the passion 
for learning revived to a great extent among the native 
Irish nobility. Pilgrimages, as of old, were made to 
distant lands for the purpose of worshiping at famous 
shrines. Irish teachers and scholars began again to be 
numerous in Spain, Germany, and Italy. Henry VII, 
engaged in saving the wreck of England's almost ex- 
tinguished nobility, and in hoarding money, for which 
he had a passion, took little account of Ireland and the 
Irish. But, already, low on the horizon, a blood-red 
cloud was forming, and it gradually thickened and ex- 
tended until, at last, it broke in a crimson torrent on 
the fated Irish nation. 




The "Reformation" New Cause of Discord in Ireland 

TH HE bitterness of race hatred had almost died out 
A when the Reformation, as the opponents of the 
Church of Rome called the great schism of the sixteenth 
century, began to shake Europe like an earthquake. 
Luther, and other dissenters from Catholic faith, carried 
most of the north of Europe with them. The Latin coun- 
tries, South Germany, all of Ireland, and most of Eng- 
land, clung to the old faith, and Henry VIII, who suc- 
ceeded his father at an early age, and was quite learned 
in theology, wrote a pamphlet defending the Catholic 
dogmas against Luther and the others. This work pro- 
cured for him from the Pope the title of the "Defender 
of the Faith," which still, rather inappropriately, belongs 
to the sovereign of England. But Henry was a good 
Catholic only so long as religion did not interfere with 
his passions and ambitions. He had been married in 
early life to Catherine of Aragon, who had been the 
nominal wife of his elder brother, another Prince of 
Wales, who died uncrowned. After many years, Henry, 
who was a slave to his passions, tired of Catherine, and 
pretended to believe that it was sinful to live with his 
brother's widow, even though the latter relationship was 
but nominal. In truth, he had fallen in love with Anne 
Boleyn, one of Queen Catherine's maids-of-honor. The 
Pope was appealed to for a divorce and refused to grant 
it, after having carefully examined into the case. Then 

Ireland 6 v oLJ.(in) 

H2 The People's History of Ireland 

Henry severed England's spiritual connection with Rome, 
and declared himself head of the English "Reformed" 
Church. In this he was sustained by Wolsey, Cromwell, 
and other high churchmen, all of whom were either am- 
bitious or afraid of their heads, for Henry never hesi- 
tated, like his grand-uncle, Richard III, at the use of 
the axe, when any subject, clerical or lay, opposed his 
will. But the tyrant, while refusing allegiance to the 
Pope, still maintained the truth of Catholic dogma, and 
he murdered with studied impartiality those who gave 
their adhesion to the Holy See and those who denied its 
doctrines; no Englishman of note felt his head safe in 
those red days. As for the common people, nobody of 
"rank" ever gave them a thought. Henry now seized 
upon the Church property, and, therewith, bribed the 
great lords to take his side of the controversy. The 
boors followed the lords, and so most of England fol- 
lowed Henry's schism and prepared to go farther. 

Henry married Anne Boleyn when he had "divorced" 
Queen Catherine. After the Princess Elizabeth was 
born, he tired of his new wife, had her tried for faithless- 
ness and high treason and beheaded. Scarcely was she 
dead when the inhuman brute married Lady Jane Sey- 
mour, of the great Somerset family. She gave birth to 
Prince Edward and died. Then he married Anne of 
Cleves, but, not liking her person, "divorced" her and 
sent her back to Germany. For "imposing" her on him, 
he disgraced, and finally beheaded, the Lord Chancellor, 
Thomas Cromwell, who had been his great friend. The 
monster next espoused Lady Catherine Howard, of the 
House of Surrey, but he had her beheaded, on charges 
almost similar to those urged against Anne Boleyn, with- 

The People's History of Ireland 113 

in the year. At last he married a widow of two experi- 
ences, Lady Catharine Parr, who, being a woman of tact 
and cleverness, managed to save her head, although fre- 
quently in danger, until the ferocious king, who must 
have been somewhat insane, finally fell a victim to his 
own unbridled vices. "The plain truth," says Charles 
Dickens, in his "Child's History," "is that Henry VIII 
was a most intolerable ruffian, a disgrace to human 
nature, and a blot of blood and grease upon the history 
of England." 

This was the crowned "fiend in human shape" who 
sought to effect his "Reformation in Ireland," where both 
the Old Irish and the Old English had united against his 
tyranny. The weight of his wrath fell first upon the Lein- 
ster Geraldines, whom he dreaded. He contrived to pick 
a quarrel with Gerald, ninth Earl of Kildare, who had 
been for many years his favorite viceroy in Ireland, and 
summoned him to London in hot haste, on flimsy, notori- 
ously "trumped-up" charges of treason. He flung him 
into a dungeon in the Tower of London. Lord Thomas 
Fitzgerald, son of the Earl, called "Silken Thomas," 
because of the beauty of his person and the splendor of 
his apparel, was appointed deputy by his father, who 
thought his absence in England might be brief. Lord 
Thomas was young, brave, and rash, and, in short, the 
very man to fall an easy victim to the wiles of his 
House's enemies. Tradition says that the false news of 
Earl Gerald's execution, by order of King Henry, was 
spread in Dublin by one of the Butlers. The privy coun- 
cil, over which he usually presided, was already in session 
at St. Mary's Abbey, when "Silken Thomas" heard the 
story. He. at once, with a large escort, proceeded to the 

H4 The People's History of Ireland 

abbey, renounced his allegiance to the English monarch, 
and, seizing the sword of state from the sword-bearer, 
threw it, with violent gesture, on the council table, "the 
English Thanes among." Protests availed nothing. He 
rushed to arms, and for nearly two years held at bay 
Henry's power. Had he but laid his plans with care and 
judgment, he would, no doubt, have ended the rule of 
England over Ireland, which, although not his primary, 
became his ultimate, object. In the end, his stronghold 
of Maynooth Castle was betrayed into the hands of the 
English general, Sir William Skeffington, by Lord 
Thomas's foster-brother, Parez, for 'a sum in gold. 
General Skeffington paid the money on the surrender of 
the castle, and immediately hanged the traitor. For this 
act of chivalric justice, the name of that stern English- 
man is still held in respect by all readers of Irish history. 
The loss of Maynooth depleted the strength of "Silken 
Thomas." He struggled on for some time longer, but, at 
last, accepted the terms of Lord Deputy Gray, who offered 
him his life and guaranteed the safety of his five uncles 
two, at least, of whom had had no hand in the outbreak. 
They were invited to a banquet by the Lord Deputy, and 
there, while drinking with their false hosts, were treach- 
erously seized, placed in irons, and sent to England in 
a ship called the Cow. One of the uncles, hearing the 
name of the vessel, said : "We are lost ! I have dreamed 
that six of us, Geraldines, would be carried to England 
in the belly of a cow and there lose our heads!" The 
augury was fulfilled. Henry VIII, with his usual disre- 
gard of terms, had them beheaded immediately after their 
arrival in London, at Tyburn. The old Earl of Kildare 
had not been executed after all, but died of a broken heart 

The People's History of Ireland 115 

in the Tower on learning of the revolt and misfortunes of 
his son. Only one heir-male of the noble House of Kil- 
dare now survived, and for him, although only twelve 
years old, Henry sought, through his agents, with the 
relentless ferocity of a Herod. The boy was related to 
the great Celtic houses, for the Geraldines of that period 
preferred Irish wives, and his mother was a princess 
of the House of O'Neill of Ulster. By her, and by other 
noble Irish ladies, he was concealed and protected until 
he was enabled to escape to France. Thence he pro- 
ceeded to Rome, where he was educated as befitted his 
rank and lineage. This young Gerald was restored to 
his titles and estates by Queen Mary I, but he accepted 
Protestantism when Elizabeth came to the throne, because, 
otherwise, he could not have saved land and title a most 
unworthy motive, but one very common in that violent 
and sanguinary era. In his descendants the elder Ger- 
aldine branch still lives in Ireland the present head of 
the family being Maurice Fitzgerald, "the boy-Duke" of 

"Bluff King Hal," as the English called their royal 
Bluebeard, never did anything by halves, if he could help 
it. He did not think the title of "Lord of Ireland" suffi- 
cient for his dignity, and set about intriguing to be elected 
king. Accordingly, he caused to be summoned a parlia- 
ment, or rather what we of to-day would call a conven- 
tion, composed of Anglo-Irish barons and Celto-Irish 
chiefs, to meet in Dublin, A.D. 1541. This parliament or 
convention, at which the great Ulster princes, O'Neill and 
O'Donnell, did not attend, voted Henry the crown of Ire- 
land something the Irish chiefs, at least, had no power 
to do, as they held their titles by election of their clans 

n6 The People's History of Ireland 

and not by right of heredity. The outcome was, how- 
ever, that Henry became King of Ireland the first En- 
glish monarch to achieve that distinction. In order to 
emphasize his power, he at once decreed that the old titles 
of the Irish princes should give way to English ones. 
Thus "The O'Brien" became "Earl of Thomond" ; "The 
MacWilliam," "Earl of Clanricarde" ; "The MacMur- 
rough" became "Baron of Ballynun,"and changed his fam- 
ily name to Kavanagh. Shameful to relate, O'Neill and 
O'Donnell, both old men, broken in health, "came in" and 
joined the titled serfs. The former became "Earl of 
Tyrone" and the latter "Earl of Tyrconnel." 

When the news reached the Irish clansmen, there was 
a general revolt and new chiefs of the same families, with 
the old Irish designations unchanged, were elected. The 
English interest supported "the King's O'Donnell" and 
the others of his type, while the bulk of the Irish people 
stood for the newly chosen leaders. Thus was still an- 
other firebrand cast by English policy among the Irish 
people, and there was civil war, thenceforth, for genera- 
tions in the clans themselves. 

Nor was Henry satisfied with mere civil supremacy in 
Ireland. He also set himself up as head of the Irish 
Church. Many Anglo-Irish Catholic bishops basely ac- 
quiesced in his policy, but the Celtic bishops, almost to 
a man, spurned his propositions. The masses of the Irish 
nation, whether of Celtic, Norman, or Saxon origin, re- 
mained steadfastly Catholic, although, in the past, they 
had had little cause to be pleased with the political action 
of the Vatican, which had generally sided with the Cath- 
olic monarchs of England against Ireland's aspirations 
after independence. Now, however, the favored country 

The People's History of Ireland 117 

had become Rome's most deadly enemy in Europe, while 
Ireland, inhabited by a highly spirited and stubborn peo- 
ple, who venerated the creed taught their fathers by St. 
Patrick, became the foremost European champion of the 
old faith. 

We can not dwell at greater length on this lurid dawn 
of the Reformation in Ireland, because, fierce as was the 
persecution under Henry, it was trivial compared with 
what followed his reign, and made the distracted island a 
veritable den of outrage and slaughter. , 


The Reformation Period Continued Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth, 
and "John the Proud" 

WHEN Edward VI, another boy-king, came to the 
throne, in 1547, Ireland was pretty well distracted, 
owing to the seeds of discord sown by his ferocious father. 
The young monarch was under the absolute control of his 
maternal kinsmen, the Seymours, and all that was done to 
forward the Reformation in Ireland during his brief reign 
may be justly attributed to them. On his death, in 1553, 
Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, 
and wife of Philip II of Spain, succeeded. She was a 
bigoted Catholic and soon made things decidedly warm 
for the Protestants in England. Many of these fled for 
safety to Ireland, where the Catholic people incapable 
of cruelty until demoralized by the ruthless tyranny of 
religious persecution received and sheltered them a 
noble page of Anglo-Irish history. 

The Reformation, of course, came to a standstill in 

n8 The People's History of Ireland 

Ireland, during this queen's reign, but the plunder and 
persecution of the Irish people did not, therefore, abate. 
There were raids and massacres and confiscations, as 
usual. Of course there were bloody reprisals on the part 
of %e Irish, also as was but natural. Some of the old 
Irish dfctricts particularly Leix and Offaly were, un- 
der the sway of Mary, called the King's and Queen's 
Counties the chief town of the one being named Philips- 
town, after the queen's Spanish husband, and the capital 
of the other Maryborough, after herself. The Irish Re- 
formers "laid low," as was prudent in them, during 
Mary's period of power, because she had the unpleasant 
Tudor habit of putting to death, by divers violent modes 
of punishment, those who presumed to differ from her 
rather strong opinions. The English, who sincerely re- 
joiced when, after reigning about five years, she passed 
to her account, nicknamed her "Bloody Mary," although 
she was not a whit "bloodier" than her awful father, and 
had a very formidable rival for sanguinary "honors" in 
her younger half-sister, Elizabeth. Mary Tudor was the 
last avowed Catholic monarch who reigned in England, 
except the ill-fated James II. In this reign, the English 
law of primogeniture was first generally introduced into 
the Celtic districts annexed to the Pale, which had been 
flivided into "shire-ground," and this was the cause of 
much internal disorder among the Irish tribes that clung 
to the old elective system of chieftaincy. 

Elizabeth, called by her admiring English subjects 
"Good Queen Bess," on very insufficient grounds, as- 
cended the throne in 1558. She had, apparently, "con- 
formed" to Catholicity during the lively reign of her half- 
sister, fearing, no doubt, for her head in case of refusal. 

The People's History of Ireland 119 

Henry VIII's daughter, by Anne Boleyn, she inherited 
great energy of character, a masculine intellect, super- 
abundant vanity, a passion for empire, and a genius for 
intrigue. Her morals were none of the best, according 
to many historians. She was, for that age, highly edu- 
cated, could speak divers tongues, and possessed many 
of the polite accomplishments. Indeed, she was somewhat 
of a female pedant. In person, while yet young, she was 
not ill-favored, being well formed and of good stature. 
Her complexion was fair, her hair auburn, and her eyes 
small, but dark and sparkling. Her temper was irritable ; 
she swore when angry, and, at times, her disposition was 
as ferocious as that of "Old Hal" himself. Like his, her 
loves were passing passions, and her friendship dangerous 
to those on whom she lavished it most freely. Flattery 
was the surest way by which to reach her consideration, 
but, in affairs of state, not even that could cloud her pow- 
erful understanding or balk her resolute will. She re- 
solved to finish what her father and brother had begun, 
and finish it to the purpose namely, the Reformation 
in both England and Ireland. In the former country, 
her will soon became law, and Rome ceased to be con- 
sidered, for generations, as a factor in English affairs. 
In Ireland, it was different. The people there refused, 
as a great majority, to conform to the new order of 
things. They obeyed the Pope, as their spiritual chief, 
and went to mass and received the sacraments as usual. 
In Ulster, particularly, the people, headed by John O'Neill, 
Prince of Tyrone, surnamed "The Proud," resisted all 
English encroachments, civil and religious. A bloody 
war resulted. The English generals and some of the 
Anglo-Irish lords were commissioned by Elizabeth to 

I2O The People's History of Ireland 

force the new religion down the throats of the Irish peo- 
ple at the point of the sword. The Liturgy, she pro- 
claimed, must be read in English, the mass abandoned, 
and she herself be recognized as Pope in Ireland, as well 
as in England. Accordingly, the English armies burned 
the Catholic churches and chapels, assassinated the clergy, 
and butchered, the people wherever resistance was offered. 
But John O'Neill was a great soldier and managed, for 
many years, to defend hds country with great success, de- 
feating the best of the English captains in several fierce 
conflicts. Elizabeth, struck with his bravery and ability, 
invited him to visit her at her palace of Greenwich. The 
invitation was sent through Gerald of Kildare, O'Neill's 
cousin. The Irish prince accepted and proceeded to court 
with a following of three hundred galloglasses, or heavy 
infantry, clad in saffron-colored jackets, close-fitting pan- 
taloons, heavy shoes, short cloaks, and with their hair 
hanging down their backs, defiant of Poynings' Law, and 
all other English enactments. They were gigantic war- 
riors all more than six v feet tall and with huge mus- 
taches, the drooping ends of which touched their collar- 
bones. They also carried truculent-looking daggers and 
immense battle-axes, such as might have won the admira- 
tion of Richard Cceur de Lion himself. The English 
courtiers pigmies compared with the galloglasses 
might have been inclined to make fun of their costumes, 
but those deadly appearing axes inspired awe, and no un- 
pleasant incident occurred during the visit. "Shane the 
Proud*' made a deep impression on Elizabeth, for he was 
physically magnificent and as fierce as her dreaded father. 
"By what right do you oppose me in Ulster?" she asked. 
"By very good right, madam," he answered. "You may 

The People's History of Ireland 121 

be queen here, but I am king in Ulster, and so have been 
the O'Neills for thousands of years!" Then she offered 
to make him Earl of Tyrone by letters patent. "Earl 
me no earls, madam," he replied. "The O'Neill is my 
title ! By it I stand or fall !" There was nothing more 
to be said, so the queen made him rich presents, after ask- 
ing him to be her "good friend," which, being a gallant, 
he promised, and then he went back to Ulster. 

But Shane, although a good general and a great 
fighter, was a bad statesman, and by no means a con- 
scientious character. He oppressed the neighboring Irish 
chiefs, being, indeed, half mad with pride, and made a 
most unjust and unnecessary attack on the Clan O'Don- 
nell, next to the O'Neills the most powerful of Ulster 
tribes. He not alone ruined the O'Donnell, but also 
dishonored him, by carrying his wife away and making 
her his mistress, in mad disregard of Irish public opin- 
ion. He also quarreled with the old MacDonald colony 
of Antrim said by some writers to be Irish, not Scotch, 
in their origin and used them with extreme harshness. 
In the end, his misconduct produced a revolt even among 
his own followers. His enemies, including the injured 
O'Donnells, speedily multiplied, and he who had been 
fifty times victorious over the English, was, at last, sig- 
nally defeated by his own justly indignant fellow-coun- 
trymen. In this extremity, he fled with his mistress and 
a few followers for refuge to the MacDonalds, who, at 
first, received the fugitives hospitably, but soon, insti- 
gated, it is said, by one Captain Piers, an Englishman, 
fell upon O'Neill at a banquet and stabbed him to death. 
Had he loved his own people as much as he hated the 
English, he might have lived and died a conqueror. The 

122 The People's History of Ireland 

MacDonalds did not respect the body of this dead lion. 
They severed the head from the trunk, pickled it, and 
sent the ghastly present to the English Lord Deputy in 
Dublin, who caused it to be spiked on the tower of Dub- 
lin Castle. O'Neill's death, in the very prime of his mili- 
tary genius, relieved Elizabeth of her most dangerous 
Irish enemy. But another scion of that warrior race 
was under the queen's "protection" in London, and was 
destined to raise the Bloody Hand, the cognizance of his 
house, to a prouder eminence than it had attained in 
Irish annals since the far-off days of Nial of the Hostages. 
Treacherous massacres of Irish chieftains dangerous 
to England's supremacy in their country would appear 
to have been a special feature of Elizabeth's reign. 
Under the Lord Deputy Sydney's regime, A.D. 1577, 
Sir Francis Cosby, the English general commanding in 
the ancient territories of Leix and Offaly, unable to ob- 
tain the submission of the native chiefs by force of arms, 
invited several hundred of them to a banquet at the rath 
of Mullaghmast, in the present county of Kildare. The 
principal families represented were the O'Mores, O'No- 
lan's, O'Kelly's, and Lalors. The rath, or fort, was 
fitted up for the occasion, and, through the entrance, 
the unsuspecting Irish chieftains and their friends rode 
with happy hearts and smiling faces. But one of 
the Lalors who was rather belated, had his suspicions 
aroused by the dead silence which seemed to prevail in 
the rath, and by the peculiar circumstance that none of 
those who had entered came out to welcome the later 
arrivals. He bade the few friends who had accompanied 
him to remain outside, while he entered the fort to inves- 
tigate. He took the precaution to draw his sword before 

The People's History of Ireland 123 

he went in. Proceeding with caution, he was horrified 
at stumbling over the dead bodies of some of his neigh- 
bors just beyond the entrance. He retreated at once, but 
was set upon by assassins placed there to murder him. 
A powerful man, he wielded his blade with such good 
effect that he cut his way out, mounted his horse, and 
set off with his horrified associates at full gallop to his 
home at Dysart. More than four hundred confiding 
Irish gentlemen had entered the rath that day, and of all 
of them, only the sagacious Lalor escaped. The tribe of 
O'More alone lost nearly two hundred of its foremost 
members, but was not entirely exterminated. Rory Oge 
O'More, son of the slaughtered head of the tribe, made 
relentless war on the English Pale, and never desisted 
until he had more than avenged his kindred slain in the 
foul massacre of Mullaghmast. 

The Geraldine War Hugh O'Neill and "Red Hugh" O'Donnell 

T TLSTER was subdued, for a time, but, in Munster, 
U the younger branch of the Geraldines, known as 
Earls of Desmond, rose against the edicts of Elizabeth 
and precipitated that long, sanguinary, and dreary con- 
flict known as the Geraldine War. Most of the Irish 
and Anglo-Irish chiefs of the southern province bore a 
part in it, and it only terminated after a murderous strug- 
gle, stretching over nearly seven years. The Desmonds 
and their allies gained many successes, but lack of co- 
hesion, as always, produced the inevitable result final 
defeat. South Munster became a desert. Elizabeth's 

124 The People's History of Ireland 

armies systematically destroyed the growing crops, and, 
at last, famine accomplished for England what the sword 
could not have done. The Munster Geraldines were 
mainly led by Sir James Fitzmaurice, a kinsman of the 
earl, who was a brave man and an accomplished soldier. 
The earl himself, and his brother, Sir John Fitzgerald, 
had been summoned to L,ondon by the queen, and were 
made prisoners and placed in the Tower, after the usual 
treacherous fashion. After a period of detention, they 
were transferred, as state prisoners, to Dublin Castle, 
but managed to effect their escape (doubtless by the con- 
nivance of friendly officials) on horseback and reached 
their own country in due time. The earl, foolishly, held 
aloof from Fitzmaurice until a dangerous crisis was 
reached, when he threw himself into the struggle and, 
in defence of his country and religion, lost all he pos- 
sessed. The Pope and King of Spain, in the Catholic 
interest, sent men and money, but the Papal contingent, 
led by an English military adventurer, named Stukley, 
was diverted from its purpose, and never reached Ireland. 
The Spanish force less than a thousand men was 
brought to Ireland by Fitzmaurice himself. He had 
made a pilgrimage to Spain for that purpose. Smer- 
wick Castle, on the Kerry coast, was their point of de- 
barkation. With unaccountable timidity, Earl Desmond 
made no sign of an alliance, and Fitzmaurice was in 
search of other succor, when he fell, in a petty encounter 
with the De Burgos of Castle Connell. The Spaniards, 
who occupied Smerwick, were besieged by a large Anglo- 
Irish force, under the Earl of Ormond and other veteran 
chiefs. They made a gallant and desperate defence, but 
they were invested by land and sea, and were perfectly 

The People's History of Ireland 125 

Helpless against the shower of shot and shell rained upon 
them night and day by the English batteries. Seeing 
that further resistance was useless, the Spanish com- 
mander finally surrendered at discretion, but, disgraceful 
to relate, Lord Deputy De Grey refused quarter and the 
hapless Spaniards were butchered to the last man. It 
is not pleasant to have to state that among the fierce 
besiegers were the celebrated Sir Walter Raleigh, the 
great English poet Edmund Spenser, and Hugh O'Neill, 
then serving Elizabeth, "for policy's sake," in a sub- 
ordinate capacity, but afterward destined to be the 
most formidable of all her Irish foes. The Munster 
Geraldines were exterminated, except for a few col- 
lateral families the Knight of Kerry, the Knight of 
Glin, and some other chiefs whose titles still survive. 
But the great House of Desmond vanished forever from 
history, when Garret Fitzgerald, the last earl, after all 
his kinsmen had fallen in the struggle, was betrayed and 
murdered by a mercenary wretch, named Moriarty, in 
a peasant's hut in Kerry, not far from Castle Island. 
The assassin and his brutal confederates decapitated the 
remains and sent the poor old head to Elizabeth, in Lon- 
don, who caused it to be spiked over the "traitor's gate" 
of the Tower. So ended the Geraldine revolt, which 
raged in Munster from 1578 to 1584, until all that fair 
land was a desert and a sepulchre. The bravest battle 
fought during its continuance was that of Glendalough, 
in the summer of 1580. This was on the soil of Leinster, 
and the victory was won by the heroic Clan O'Byrne, of 
Wicklow, led by the redoubtable chief, Fiach MacHugh. 
The English, who were led by Lord De Grey in person, 
suffered a total rout, and the Lord Deputy, at the head 

126 The People's History of Ireland 

of the few terrified survivors, fled in disgrace to Dublin, 
leaving behind him the dead bodies of four of his bravest 
and ablest captains Audley, Cosby, Carew, and Moore. 

"Carew and Audley deep had sworn the Irish foe to tame, 
But thundering on their dying ear his shout of victory came; 
And burns with shame De Grey's knit brow and throbs with rage 

his eye, 
To see his best, in wildest rout, from Erin's clansmen fly." 

The defeat and death of "Shane the Proud" had left 
Ulster, temporarily, without a military chief competent 
to make head against the English, and, therefore, the 
Desmonds were left, practically, without help from the 
northern province. Notwithstanding, the new Lord Dep- 
uty, Perrott, kept his eyes fixed steadily on Ulster, the 
fighting qualities of whose sons he knew only too well. 
In Tyrconnel young Hugh Roe, or Red Hugh, O'Don- 
nell, was growing fast to manhood, and his fame as an 
athlete, a hunter, and hater of the English, spread through- 
out Ireland. Hugh O'Neill, the son of Matthew, Baron 
of Dungannon, was enjoying himself at Elizabeth's court, 
where he made the acquaintance of Cecil, Essex, Bacon, 
Marshal Bagnal, Mountjoy, and numerous other celebri- 
ties, and basked in the sunshine of the royal favor, which 
he took particular pains to cultivate. He was a hand- 
some young man, of middle size, rigidly trained to arms, 
and "shaped in proportion fair." The queen's object was 
to make him an instrument in her hands for the final 
subjugation of Ireland. He seemed to enter readily into 
her plans, which his quick intellect at once comprehended, 
and he met her wiles with a dissimulation as profound 
as her own. If any man ever outwitted Elizabeth, po- 

The People's History of Ireland 127 

litically, that man was Hugh O'Neill, whom she finally 
created Earl of Tyrone a title which, in his inmost 
heart, he despised, much preferring his hereditary desig- 
nation of "The O'Neill." But it was not Hugh's imme- 
diate purpose to quarrel with Elizabeth about titles, or, in 
fact, anything else. He was graciously permitted to raise 
a body-guard of his own clansmen, and to arm and drill 
them at his pleasure. . Nay, more, the queen allowed him 
to send from England shiploads of lead wherewith to 
put a new roof on his castle of Dungannon. And he 
went to Ireland to look after his interests in person. 
Soon, rumors reached Elizabeth that O'Neill, when he 
had sufficiently drilled one batch of clansmen, substituted 
another; and that enough lead had been shipped by him 
from England to Tyrone to roof twenty castles. It was 
further rumored that the clanswomen of Tyrone were 
employed casting bullets at night, instead of spinning 
and weaving. O'Neill, learning of these rumors from 
English friends, repaired to London, and, at once, reas- 
sured the queen as to his "burning loyalty and devotion 
to her person." So he was permitted to return to Dun- 
gannon unmolested. Unlike his fierce kinsman, John the 
Proud, Hugh cultivated the friendship of all the Ulster 
chiefs, within reach, and more particularly that of the 
brave and handsome young Red Hugh O'Donnell. Nor 
did he confine his friendly relations to the chiefs of Ul- 
ster. He also perfected good understandings with many 
in the other three provinces, and managed to keep on good 
terms with the English also. Indeed, he did not hesitate 
to take the field occasionally "in the interest of the queen," 
and, on one occasion, during a skirmish in Munster, re- 
ceived a wound in the thigh. How could Elizabeth 

128 The People's History of Ireland 

doubt that one who shed his blood for her could be other- 
wise than devoted to her service? O'Neill, no doubt, 
liked the queen, but he loved Ireland and liberty much 
better. In his patriotic deceit he only followed the ex- 
ample set him at the English court. He kept "open 
house" at Dungannon Castle for all who might choose 
or chance to call. Among others, he received the wrecked 
survivors of the Spanish Armada cast away on the wild 
Ulster coast, and shipped them back to Spain, at his own 
expense, laden with presents for their king. A kinsman, 
Hugh of the Fetters an illegitimate son of John the 
Proud by the wife of O'Donnell, already mentioned 
betrayed his secret to the English Government. He- ex- 
plained his action to the satisfaction of the Lord Deputy, 
for he had a most persuasive tongue. Having done so, 
he exercised his hereditary privilege of the chief O'Neill, 
arrested Hugh of the Fetters, had him tried for treason, 
and, it is said, executed him with his own hand, because 
he could find no man in Tyrone willing to kill an O'Neill, 
even though proven a craven traitor. 

Lord Deputy Perrott, in 1587, or thereabout, con- 
cocted a plan by which he got the young O'Donnell, 
whose rising fame he dreaded, into his power. A sailing- 
vessel, laden with wine and other merchandise, was sent 
around the coast of Ireland from Dublin and cast anchor 
in Lough Swilly, at a point opposite to Rathmullen. Red 
Hugh and his friends, young like himself, were engaged 
in hunting and fishing when the vessel appeared in the 
bay. The captain, in the friendliest manner, invited 
O'Donnell and his companions on board. They consented, 
and were plied with wine. By the time they were ready 
to return to shore, they found the hatches battened down 

The People's History of Ireland 129 

and the ship under way for Dublin. And thus, meanly 
and most treacherously, was the kidnapping of this noble 
youth and his friends accomplished by, supposedly, an 
English gentleman. 

O'Donnell, after a confinement of three years in Dublin 
Castle, managed to effect his escape, in company with 
some fellow captives. But they missed their way, and 
were overtaken and captured in the territory of O'Tuhill, 
at a place now called Powerscourt, in the county Wick- 
low.' A second attempt, made two years later on, proved 
more successful, and the escaping party managed to 
reach the tribe-land of the O'Byrnes, whose brave chief, 
Fiach MacHugh, received and sheltered them. Art 
O'Neill, one of Red Hugh's companions, perished of 
cold and hunger the season being winter on the trip; 
and O'Donnell's feet were so badly frozen that he was 
partially disabled for life. This fact did not, however, 
interfere with his warlike activity. O'Byrne at once in- 
formed Hugh O'Neill of Red Hugh's escape and where- 
abouts, and the Ulster chief sent a guide, who brought 
him safely to Dungannon, where he was royally enter- 
tained and admitted to the knowledge of O'Neill's secret 
policy, which, as may have been surmised, aimed at the 
overthrow of English rule in Ireland. 

After resting sufficiently, O'Donnell proceeded to Tyr- 
connel, where he was joyfully received by his people. 
His father, old and unenterprising, determined to abdi- 
cate the chieftaincy in his favor, and, accordingly, Red 
Hugh was proclaimed "The O'Donnell," with all the an- 
cient forms. He proceeded with characteristic rigor to 
baptize his new honors in the blood of his foes. Old 
Turlough O'Neill had weakly permitted an English gar- 

130 The People's History of Ireland 

rison to occupy his castle of Strabane. O'Donnell at- 
tacked it furiously and put all of the garrison to the 
sword. He followed up this warlike blow with many 
others, and soon struck terror into the hearts of all the 
"Englishry" and their much more despicable Irish allies, 
on the borders of Ulster and Connaught. His most ac- 
tive and efficient ally in these stirring operations was 
Hugh McGuire, Prince of Fermanagh the best cavalry 
commander produced by either party during the long and 
devastating Elizabethan wars. 


Confiscation of Desmond's Domains English Plantation of Munster 

HPHERE had been, of course, a general "confiscation 
A to the Crown" that is, to the English "carpet-bag- 
gers" of the broad domains of the defeated Desmonds, 
and their allies, and among the aliens who profited 
greatly thereby, for a time, at least, were the poetic Ed- 
mund Spenser, who obtained the castle and lands of Kil- 
colman, in Cork, and Sir Walter Raleigh, who fell in for 
extensive holdings in Youghal, at the mouth of the south- 
ern Blackwater, and its neighborhood. In the garden of 
Myrtle Grove House, Sir Walter's Youghal residence, 
potatoes, obtained from Virginia, were first planted in 
Ireland, and the first pipeful of tobacco was smoked. 
In connection with the latter event, a story is told that 
a servant-girl, about to scrub the floors, seeing smoke 
issuing from Sir Walter's nose and mouth, conceived him 
to be on fire, and emptied the contents of her pail over 

The People's History of Ireland 131 

him, in order, as she explained, "to put him out." Sir 
Walter, we may be sure, did not relish her method of 
fighting "the fire fiend." 

The Desmond confiscation was by no means the first 
case of the kind on record in Ireland. The original Ger- 
aldines took the lands by force from the Celtic tribes, 
but they speedily amalgamated with the natives, and, 
within a few generations, became full-fledged Irish in 
every characteristic, except their family name. Neither 
was this great confiscation the last, or greatest, as will be 
seen in the progress of this narrative. The queen's min- 
isters caused letters to be written to the officers of every 
"shire" in England, "generously" offering Desmond's 
plundered lands in fee simple that is, practically, free of 
cost to all younger brothers, of good families, who 
would undertake the plantation of Munster. Each of 
these favored colonists was allowed to "plant" a certain 
number of British, or Anglo-Irish, families, but it was 
specifically provided that none of the native that is, the 
Celtic and Catholic and the Norman-Catholic Irish were 
to be admitted to the privilege. The country had been 
made "a smoking desert" before this plantation of for- 
eigners was begun. Most of the rightful owners had per- 
ished by famine and the sword, and those who still sur- 
vived, "starvation being, in some instances, too slow, 
crowds of men, women, and children were sometimes 
driven into buildings, which were then set on fire" (Mitch- 
el's "Life of Hugh O'Neill, page 68). "The soldiers 
were particularly careful to destroy all Irish infants, 'for, 
if they were suffered to grow up, they would become 
Popish rebels.' ' (Ibid. pp. 68, 69.) It is related by the 
historian Lombard that "women were found hanging 

132 The People's History of Ireland 

upon trees, with their children strangled in the mother's 

And all this was done in the name of the "reformed 
religion." In good truth, although Elizabeth herself may 
have wished to make the Irish people Protestant in order 
that they might become more obedient to her spiritual 
and temporal sway, her agents in Ireland wished for 
nothing of the kind. They wished the Irish masses to 
remain Catholic. Otherwise, they would have had no 
good pretext for destroying them and usurping their 
lands. And this, too, satisfactorily explains why, for a 
very long period, the Irish national resistance to Eng- 
land was considered and described as a purely Catholic, 
sectarian movement. Protestantism, in the period of 
which we write, meant, to the average Irish mind, Eng- 
land's policy of conquest and spoliation in -Ireland. It 
is hardly wonderful, therefore, that there grew up be- 
tween the followers of the old and new creeds an animos- 
ity doubly bitter the animosity of race supplemented by 
that of religion. In our own days, we have seen the 
same -result in the Polish provinces of Russia and the 
Turkish principalities in the Danubian region of Europe. 
Well might the poet ask 

"And wherefore can not kings be great, 

And rule with man approving? 
And why should creeds enkindle hate 
And all their precepts loving?" 

The People's History of Ireland 133 

Conditions in Ulster Before the Revolt of O'Neill 

THE first jury "trial" in Ulster was that of Hugh 
Roe MacMahon, chieftain of Monaghan, who be- 
came entangled with Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam in some 
one-sided "alliance," and, failing in some slight particular 
to keep his side of the contract, was "tried" by twelve 
soldiers in Elizabeth's pay, condemned to death and shot 
at his own door. This and other brutal murders, attested 
by the English historian, Moryson, filled the north with 
rage, and the very name of English "law" became a men- 
ace and a terror throughout the length and breadth of 
Ulster. From that bloody period dates the hatred and 
distrust of English "justice" which still survives among 
the Irish people. Indeed, instances of judicial murder,' 
almost rivaling that of MacMahon Roe, might be cited 
by living Irishmen as having occurred within their own 
experience. Elizabeth's deputy, Fitzwilliam, who was a 
consummate scoundrel and jobber in bribes, and would 
have made a champion modern "boodle alderman," suc- 
ceeded in making the very name of "shire," or county, 
land detested in Ireland. When he informed McGuire, 
the bold chief of Fermanagh, that he was about to send 
a sheriff into his "county" to "empanel juries," the chief 
answered grimly, "Let him come ; but, first, let me know 
his eric (price of his blood), so that, if my people should 
cut off his head, I may levy it on the country." This 
was the Irish method under the Brehon law. No sheriff 

134 The People's History of Ireland 

appeared in Fermanagh for many a year after McGuire's 
significant statement. 

Red Hugh O'Donnell continued to make things ex- 
ceedingly lively for the English garrisons in Ulster and 
Connaught, and made them take to the cover of their 
strong places after nearly every encounter. Near Ennis- 
killen, the gallant Hugh McGuire, aided by a small body 
of the clansmen of Tyrone, who came "on the quiet," 
under the command of O'Neill's brother, Cormac, met a 
large English escort, who were conveying supplies to the 
town, to which Red Hugh O'Donnell had laid siege, at 
a ford of the river Erne. The English suffered a total 
rout, and their bread-wagons having been lost in the 
current, or overturned in the shallows, the spot is known 
to this day as Bael-atha-an-Biscoid in English "the Ford 
of Biscuits." Red Hugh, who had gone to Derry to 
meet a body of the Antrim Scots, who were coming to 
his aid, was necessarily absent when the battle was fought, 
and, on hearing of the victory, remarked he was "sorry 
he had not been in the fight, as he would have prevented 
the escape of so many of the English." The latter began 
to perceive, by this time, that they had to "strip for the 
combat" in earnest if they meant to retain their foot- 
hold on the borders of Ulster. 

Rumors of O'Neill's disaffection had again reached 
the queen, and again he journeyed to London and reas- 
sured her of his "loyalty." He even made great show of 
accepting the English title of Earl of Tyrone, and re- 
turned to Dungannon encumbered with the gold chain, 
symbolical of his new "rank." This did not please his 
clansmen, who could not see into his dissembling schemes, 
so he was obliged to placate them by consenting to be 

The People's History of Ireland 135 

installed as The O'Neill a title he very much preferred 
to his English one of Earl at the rath of Tulloghoge 
(Hill of the Youths), in his native Tyrone. Thomas 
Davis, the poet of Young Ireland a party of Irish 
literary men and high-souled patriots who flourished from 
1842 until 1848 in his fine ballad of the "True Irish 
King," gives a vivid picture of the scene in the follow- 
ing lines : 

"Unsandaled he stands on the foot-dinted rock; 
Like a pillar-stone fixed against every shock. 
Round, round as the rath, on a far-seeing hill, 
Like his blemishless honor and vigilant will. 
The graybeards are telling how chiefs by the score 
Had been crowned on the rath of the kings heretofore: 
While crowded, yet ordered, within its green ring, 
Are the dynasts and priests round the True Irish King. 

"The chronicler read him the laws of the clan, 
And pledged him to bide by their blessing and ban. 
His skian and his sword are unbuckled to show 
That they only were meant for a foreigner foe; 
A white willow wand has been put in his hand 
A type of pure, upright, and gentle command, 
While hierarchs are blessing, the slipper they fling 
And O'Cahan proclaims him a True Irish King. 

"Thrice looked he to heaven with thanks and with prayer, 
Thrice looked to his borders with sentinel stare 
To the waves of Lough Neagh, to the heights of Strabane; 
And thrice to his allies, and thrice to his clan 
One clash on their bucklers one more they are still 
What means the deep pause on the crest of the hill ? 
Why gaze they above him? A war eagle's wing! 
"Tis an omen hurrah for the True Irish King!'" 

Those who may condemn the apparently tortuous pol- 
icy of O'Neill must bear in mind that he was only prac- 
ticing against the enemies of his country the double- 
Ireland 7 Vol. L 

136 The People's History of Ireland 

dealing and subtle acts they had themselves taught him, 
in order to make him a more facile instrument in their 
hands for that country's subjugation. The dark and 
qrooked policy inculcated by Machiavelli was then in 
vogue at all the European courts, and at none was it 
practiced more thoroughly than at that of Elizabeth of 
England. It must be admitted that the English found 
in Hugh O'Neill a very apt pupil a true case of "dia- 
mond cut diamond." 

O'Neill Draws the Sword Victories of Clontibret and Armagh 

beth's most potent military commanders had 
never liked Hugh O'Neill, whom he had often met in 
London and Dublin, but this hatred of the Irish prince 
was not shared by the marshal's fair sister, the Lady 
Mabel Bagnal, who presided over his mansion at Newry, 
where were established the headquarters of the English 
army in Ulster. Lady Mabel was one of the most beau- 
tiful of women, and O'Neill, who had become a widower, 
grew desperately enamored of her. He managed to elude 
the vigilance of the hostile brother, and, assisted by a 
friendly "Saxon," succeeded in eloping with and making 
her his wife. The elopement rilled Sir Henry with fury. 
He entered into a conspiracy against O'Neill with other 
Englishmen and Palesmen. A new Lord Deputy had 
come over from England in the person of Sir William 
Russell. Charges against O'Neill were laid before him. 
He communicated with the Court of London and com- 

The People's History of Ireland 137 

mands soon came to arrest the Chief of Tyrone without 
delay. O'Neill, as usual, had means of secret informa- 
tion and soon knew all about the plot laid for his destruc- 
tion. Instead of being dismayed, he hastened, at once, 
to Dublin and surprised his treacherous accusers in the 
midst of their deliberations. His old-time friend, the 
Earl of Ormond, stood by him and refused to be a party 
to the treachery planned by the new Lord Deputy. When 
a similar order had reached Ormond himself from Lord 
Burleigh ancestor of the late Prime Minister of 
England the earl replied scornfully in these words: 
"My lord, I will never use treachery to any man, for it 
would both touch her Highness's honor and my own 
credit too much; and whosoever gave the queen advice 
thus to write is fitter for such base service than I am. 
Saving my duty to her Majesty, I would I might have 
revenge by my sword of any man that thus persuadeth 
the queen to write to me." Noble words, gallant Ormond ! 
The earl, feeling convinced that Lord Russell, who was 
not much affected by honorable scruples, would obey the 
order from the queen and arrest O'Neill, advised the lat- 
ter to fly from Dublin the very night of his arrival. The 
Ulster prince thought this very good advice and accepted 
Ormond's friendly offices. He managed to make his way 
in safety to Dungannon and at once set about perfecting 
his preparations for open warfare with the generals of 
Elizabeth. The latter were not idle either, for Russell 
surmised O'Neill's intention and sent Sir John Norreys 
(Norris), an experienced general, just returned from 
the wars in Flanders, to command against him. The re- 
mainder of the year 1594, as well as some of the suc- 
ceeding year, was spent in useless negotiations, for both 

138 The People's History of Ireland 

parties well knew that war was now inevitable. O'Don- 
nell, McGuire, and some other chiefs kept up a fierce, 
but rather desultory, warfare, greatly annoying the En- 
glish garrisons in the border strongholds. At last, in 
the early summer of 1595, O'Neill threw off the mask, 
unfurled the Red Hand of Ulster, and marched against 
the Castle of Monaghan, held by the enemy. In the 
midst of a siege but feebly carried on for lack of a bat- 
tering train, he heard that Norreys, with a powerful 
force, was advancing northward to raise the siege. 
O'Neill at once decided to anticipate his movement and 
moved to Clontibret, about five miles off, and there took 
post. Norreys soon appeared, and, being a hot soldier, 
attacked at once. He was met with a veteran firmness 
that astonished him, and both he and his brother, Sir 
Thomas Norreys, were wounded in the main attack on 
the Irish battle-line. At the moment when all seemed 
lost for England, Colonel Segrave, an Anglo-Norman of 
Meath, charged the Irish home, with a body of horse, 
and, for a time, restored the battle. Segrave, himself, 
rushed madly on O'Neill and the two leaders fought 
hand to hand for some time, while both armies stood 
still to witness the result. Mr. Mitchel thus eloquently 
describes what followed : "Segrave again dashed his horse 
against the chief, flung his giant frame upon his enemy, 
and endeavored to unhorse him by the weight of his gaunt- 
leted hand. O'Neill grasped him in his arms, and the 
combatants rolled, in that fatal embrace, to the ground. 

'Now, gallant Saxon ! hold thine own 
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown! 
That .desperate grasp thy frame might feel 
Through bars of brass and triple steel.' 

The People's History of Ireland 139 

"There was a moment's deadly wrestle and a death 
groan. The shortened sword of O'Neill was buried in 
the Englishman's groin beneath his mail. Then from 
the Irish ranks rose such a wild shout of triumph as those 
hills had never echoed before. The still thunder-cloud 
burst into a tempest; those equestrian statues became as 
winged demons, and with their battle-cry of Lamh-dearg- 
ahoo! ('The Red Hand to Victory'), and their long 
lances poised in eastern fashion above their heads, down 
swept the chivalry of Tyrone upon the astonished ranks 
of the Saxon. The banner of St. George wavered and 
went down before that furious charge. The English 
turned their bridle-reins and fled headlong over the stream 
(which they had crossed to attack the Irish), leaving the 
field covered with their dead, and, worse than all, leaving 
with the Irish that proud red-cross banner, the first of 
their disgraces in those Ulster wars. Norreys hastily re- 
treated southward, and the castle of Monaghan was 
yielded to O'Neill." 

About the same time, Red Hugh O'Donnell "prevailed 
mightily" in the west, "so that," says Mitchel, "at the 
close of the year 1595, the Irish power predominated 
both in Ulster and Connaught." O'Neill followed up 
his success by laying siege to Armagh, which he captured 
by an ingenious stratagem. Colonel Stafford had been 
appointed to the command of the English in the old city, 
and he proved himself equal to the occasion, so far as 
fighting bravely to hold it went. But provisions were 
running low, and it was known to Stafford that Norreys 
was sending to him, from Dundalk, a large convoy of 
provisions. O'Neill's scouts had the same information, 
so a body of Irish was detached to attack the convoy 

140 The People's History of Ireland 

and capture the rations. The movement proved success- 
ful. About three hundred English soldiers were made 
prisoners. O'Neill ordered them to be stripped of their 
red surtouts, and bade the same number of his clansmen 
to put the garments on their own backs. Then he com- 
manded the convoy to march toward Armagh as if noth- 
ing had happened. Meanwhile, he had caused his rela- 
tive, Con O'Neill, to occupy an old ruined abbey near the 
main gate of the city. All this was accomplished under 
cover of the night. At sunrise, Stafford and his hungry 
soldiers, from the ramparts, gazed wistfully southward, 
and, to their great joy, beheld, as they imagined, the con- 
voy marching rapidly to their relief. Almost on the in- 
stant, it was, seemingly, attacked by the Irish army. 
Volleys blank cartridges being used were exchanged, 
and many men appeared to fall on both sides. At last, 
the supposititious English seemed about to give way. 
Stafford and his famished men could stand the sight 
no longer. They rushed through the now open gate to 
the aid of their countrymen, as they thought. To their 
amazement, both red coats and saffron shirts fell upon 
them, and they perceived they had been tricked. A brave 
attempt was made by them to re-enter the town, but Con 
O'Neill and his party, rushing from the old ruin, seized 
the gate. All the English outside the walls were cap- 
tured. Soon afterward, the city itself surrendered to 
the Irish leader. O'Neill made humane use of his vic- 
tory. He disarmed and paroled the English prisoners 
and sent them, under safe escort, back to General Nor- 
reys. He was a man of strict honor, and, no doubt, the 
terms of the capitulation were properly observed. The 
Irish dismantled Armagh, as O'Neill had no need of for- 

The People's History of Ireland 141 

tresses, but, during his absence elsewhere, some English 
made their way to the place and refortified it ; only, how- 
ever, to have it retaken by the Irish army. oAiV*C 


Ireland Still Victorious Battles of Tyrrell's Pass and TDrumflufcli '"* 

THE year 1597 witnessed the recall of Lord Deputy 
Russell from the government of Ireland, and the 
substitution of Lord De Burgh. A temporary truce was 
entered into by the belligerents, and neither side lost any 
time in augmenting its strength. All Ulster was prac- 
tically freed from English rule, but they had garrisons 
shut up in the castles of Carrickfergus, Newry, Dundrum, 
Carlingford, Greencastle, and Olderfleet all on the coast. 
When the truce came to an end, the Palesmen organized 
a large force and prepared to send it northward, to aid 
those garrisons, under young Barnewall, son of Lord 
Trimleston. O'Neill detached a force of 400 men un- 
der the brave Captain Richard Tyrrell and his lieutenant, 
O' Conor, to ambush and destroy it. Tyrrell moved 
promptly to accomplish his mission, and rapidly pene- 
trated to the present county of Westmeath. There, at a 
defile now known as Tyrrell's Pass, not far from Mullin- 
gar, he awaited the coming of the Palesmen. In the 
narrow pass, the latter could not deploy, so that the bat- 
tle was fought by the heads of columns, which gave the 
advantage to the Irish. Some of the latter managed to 
get on the flanks of the Palesmen, and a terrible slaugh- 
ter ensued. Of the thousand Palesmen, only Barnewall 
himself and one soldier escaped the swords of tne venge- 

142 The People's History of Ireland 

ful natives. The former was brought a prisoner to 
O'Neill, who held him as a hostage, and the soldier car- 
ried the dread news of the annihilation of the Meathian 
force to Mullingar. 

But the Lord Deputy and the Earl of Kildare, with all 
the force they could muster, were in full march for Ulster. 
Sir Conyers Clifford, another veteran Englishman, at- 
tempted to join them from the side of Connaught, but 
was met by Red Hugh O'Donnell and compelled to go 
back the way he came, leaving many of his men behind 
him. At a place called Drumfluich, the Lord Deputy and 
Kildare, who were en route to recapture Portmore, which 
had fallen into the hands of O'Neill, encountered the 
Irish army. The latter was strongly posted on the banks 
of the northern Blackwater, but the English attacked with 
great resolution, drove its vanguard across the river and 
took possession of Portmore. O'Neill, however, held his 
main body well in hand, and while De Burgh was con- 
gratulating himself on his success, fiercely attacked the 
English who had crossed to the left bank of the river, 
and inflicted on them a most disastrous defeat. The 
Lord Deputy and the Earl of Kildare were both mortally 
wounded, and died within a few hours. The English 
army was practically destroyed. Red Hugh O'Donnell 
had arrived in the nick of time to complete the victory, 
and, with him, the Antrim MacDonalds, whose prowess 
received due honor. The historian of Hugh O'Neill says, 
succinctly: "That battlefield is called Drumfluich. It 
lies about two miles westward from Blackwater-town 
(built on the site of Portmore), and Battleford-bridge 
marks the spot where the English reddened the river in 
their flight." 

The People's History of Ireland 143 

But Captain Williams, a valiant "Saxon," held Port- 
more, in spite of O'Neill's great victory, and this fortress, 
in the heart of his country, proved a thorn in the side of 
Tyrone, who, as we have already mentioned, was desti- 
tute of battering- appliances for many a day. The result 
at Drumfluich struck dismay into the hearts of the stout- 
est soldiers of the English interest, and the dreaded names 
of O'Neill and the Blackwater were on every trembling 
lip throughout the Pale. The queen, in London, grew 
very angry, and rated her ministers with unusual vehe- 
mence. It was fortunate for De Burgh and Lord Kil- 
dare that they died on the field of honor. Otherwise, they 
would have been disgraced, as was General Norreys for 
his defeat at Clontibret. He died of a broken heart soon 
after being deprived of his command in Ulster. 

The English were also unfortunate in Connaught and 
Munster, and when the Earl of Ormond assumed the 
government of Ireland, by appointment, after the defeat 
and death of De Burgh, the English interest had fallen 
lower in the scale than it had been since the days of 
Richard II. The earl entered into a two months' armis- 
tice with O'Neill, and negotiations for a permanent peace 
were begun. O'Neill's conditions were : perfect freedom 
of religion not only in Ulster but throughout Ireland; 
reparation for the spoil and ravage done upon the Irish 
country by the garrisons of Newry and other places, and, 
finally, entire and undisturbed control by the Irish chiefs 
over their own territories and people. (Moryson, Mc- 
Geoghegan, and Mitchel.) 

Queen Elizabeth was enraged at these terms, when 
transmitted to her by Ormond, and sent a list of counter- 
terms which O'Neill could not possibly entertain. He 

144 The People's History of Ireland 

saw there was nothing for it but the edge of the sword, 
and grew impatient at the tardiness of King Philip of 
Spain in not sending him aid while he was prosecuting 
the war for civil and religious liberty so powerfully. 
The English Government, in order to discourage the 
Catholic powers and keep them from coming to the aid 
of Ireland, concealed or minimized O'Neill's splendid 
victories. Lombard, cited by McGeoghegan a most con- 
scientious historian avers that an English agent was 
employed, at Brussels, "to publish pretended submis- 
sions, treaties, and pardons, so that the Spanish governor 
of Flanders might report to his master that the power 
of the Irish Catholics was broken and their cause com- 
pletely lost." (Mitchel.) The same charge has been 
made against England in our own day only in a differ- 
ent connection. Germany, France, and Russia have semi- 
officially declared that English agents at Berlin, Paris, 
and St. Petersburg have persistently misrepresented the 
attitude of those countries toward America during the 
recent Spanish War. Whatever may have been the truth 
regarding the Brussels agent, it is undeniable that King 
Philip abandoned Ireland to her fate until it was too late 
to hinder her ruin ; and that, when Spanish troops landed 
at Kinsale, in 1601, they proved more of a hindrance 
than a help. O'Neill gave up all hope of assistance from 
Philip in the fall of 1597 and resolved to stake all on his 
genius as a commander, and on the tried valor of the 
glorious clansmen of Tyrone and Tyrconnel. 

The People's History of Ireland 145 


Irish Victory of the Yellow Ford, Called the Bannockburn of 

WE dwell at greater length on the Elizabethan era 
in Ireland than, perhaps, on any other, because 
then began the really fatal turn in the fortunes of the 
Irish nation. Notwithstanding splendid triumphs in the 
field, cunning and treachery were fated to overcome pa- 
triotism and heroic courage. But, before this great cloud 
gloomed upon her, Ireland was still destined to witness 
many days of glory, and to win her most renowned 

The spring and early summer of 1598 saw Captain 
Williams still holding Portmore, on the Blackwater, 
stubbornly for England, but his rations were nearly ex- 
hausted and he managed to get word of his desperate 
condition to Marshal Bagnal, who, at the head of a 
splendidly appointed army of veteran troops, horse and 
foot, marched northward from Newry to his succor. 
His first operations were successful and he came very 
near to capturing O'Neill himself, at a place called Mul- 
laghbane, not far from Armagh. Then Bagnal pushed 
on to raise the siege of Portmore, where Williams was 
living on his starved horses and suffering all the pangs 
of hunger. 

O'Neill, having been fully informed of Marshal Bag- 
nal's progress, summoned O'Donnell and his other allies 
to join him immediately, which they did. He left Port- 
more to the famine-stricken garrison, and turned his face 

146 The People's History of Ireland 

southward fully resolved to give battle to his redoubted 
brother-in-law before he could reach the Blackwater. 
Thoroughly acquainted with the character of the country 
through which the English were to pass, he had no diffi- 
culty in choosing his ground. He took post, therefore, 
in the hilly, wooded, and marshy angle formed by the Cal- 
lan and Blackwater Rivers, at a point where a sluggish 
rivulet runs from a large bog toward the main river, and 
which is called, in the Gaelic tongue, Beal-an-atha-buidhe, 
in English, "the Mouth of the Yellow Ford," destined to 
give title to the Irish Bannockburn. This field is about 
two and one-half miles N.W. from Armagh. 

The superb English array, all glittering in steel armor 
and with their arms flashing back pencils of sunlight, 
Bagnal himself in the van, appeared at the opening of 
the wooded pass, which, all unknown to the marshal, was 
garrisoned by five hundred Irish kerns early on the sul- 
try morning of August loth T. D. McGee says the 
1 5th 1598. The head of the column was attacked im- 
mediately by the Celtic infantry, who, however, obedi- 
ent to orders, soon fell back on the main body, which was 
drawn up behind a breastwork, in front of which was a 
long trench, dug pretty deep, and concealed by wattles 
(dry sticks) and fresh-cut sods a stratagem borrowed 
by O'Neill from the tactics of Bruce, so successfully put 
in practice at Bannockburn, nearly three centuries before. 
Having finally cleared the pass, not without copious blood- 
shed, Bagnal debouched from it, and deployed his forces 
on the plain in face of the Irish army. His cavalry, un- 
der Generals Brooke, Montacute, and Fleming, shouting, 
"St. George for England!" charged fiercely up to the 
Irish trench, where the horses floundered in the covered 

The People's History of Ireland 147 

trap set for them, and then the Irish foot, leaping over 
their breastwork, piked to death the unfortunate riders. 
Bagnal, in no wise daunted, pressed on with his chosen 
troops, animating them by shout and gesture. A part 
of the Irish works, battered by his cannon, was carried, 
and the English thought the battle won. They were pre- 
paring to follow up their success when, suddenly, O'Neill 
himself appeared, at the head of his main body, who had 
abandoned their slight defences, and came on to meet the 
English with flashing musketry and "push of pike." 
Bagnal's artillery, with which he was well provided, did 
much damage to O'Neill's men, but nothing could with- 
stand the Irish charge that day. O'Donnell's dashing 
clan nobly seconded their kinsmen of Tyrone, and a most 
desperate conflict ensued. Bagnal and his soldiers de- 
ported themselves bravely, as became tried warriors, but, 
in the crisis of the fight, the marshel fell, a wagon-load 
of powder exploded in the English lines, their ranks be- 
came confused, and few of their regiments preserved 
their formation. The Irish cavalry destroyed utterly 
what remained of the English horse. "By this time," 
says Mitchel, "the cannon were all taken; the cries of 
'St. George' had failed or were turned to death-shrieks, 
and once more, England's royal standard sank before 
the Red Hand of Tyrone." The English rout was ap- 
palling, and the chronicler of O'Donnell says : "They were 
pursued in couples, in threes, in scores, in thirties, and in 
hundreds." At a point where the carnage was greatest, 
the country people still show the traveler the Bloody 
Loaming (lane) which was choked with corpses on that 
day of slaughter. Two. thousand five hundred English 
soldiers perished in the battle and flight; and among the 

148 The People's History of Ireland 

fallen were the marshal, as already related, twenty-two 
other superior officers, and a large number of captains, 
lieutenants, and ensigns. The immediate spoils of the 
victory were 12,000 gold pieces, thirty-four standards, 
all the musical instruments and cannon, and an immense 
booty in wagons, loaded with clothing and provisions. 
The Irish army lost 200 in killed and three times that 
number wounded. By O'Neill's orders, the dead of both 
sides were piously buried. (Irish annals cited by Curry 
and Mitchel.) 

Sir Walter Scott, in his graphic poem of "Rokeby," 
which should be read by all students, as it deals with a 
stirring period of English history, thus refers to the bat- 
tle of the Yellow Ford : 

"Who has not heard, while Erin yet 
Strove 'gainst the Saxon's iron bit, 
Who has not heard how brave O'Neill 
In English blood imbrued his steel; 
Against St. George's cross blazed high 
The banners of his tanistry 
To fiery Essex gave the foil 
And reigned a prince on Ulster soil? 
But chief arose his victor pride 
When that brave marshal fought and died, 
And Avonduff* to ocean bore 
His billows red with Saxon gore." 

The survivors of Bagnal's heroic, if defeated, army, 
fled to Armagh, which had again fallen into the posses- 
sion of the English, and there took shelter. O'Neill in- 
vested the place and, being now provided with artillery, 
captured from the enemy, speedily compelled its sur- 
render. The gallant Williams, starved out at Portmore, 
also capitulated. O'Neill, with his customary magnanim- 
* Blackwater. 

The People's History of Ireland 149 

ity, after depriving the prisoners of both places of their 
arms, took their parole and sent them in safety to the 
Pale, and, for a time, all English power whatever van- 
ished from the soil of Ulster. 


How O'Neill Baffled Essex O'Donnell's Victory of the Curlew 


HP HE limits of this simple narrative of Irish history 
1 will not permit us to go into the details of the nu- 
merous "risings" of the Irish and encounters with the 
disheartened English in the other three provinces. O'Don- 
nell swept through Connaught, like a very besom of de- 
struction, drove the English generals into their castles, 
and other strong places, and carried Athenry by storm, 
"sword in hand." He also made a raid into Munster, and 
punished a degenerate O'Brien of Inchiquin for accept- 
ing an English title, and hugging his English chain as 
"Earl of Thomond." Then he returned to Connaught 
and finished up what English garrisons still remained 
there, with few exceptions. O'Neill himself also made a 
visit to Munster, said his prayers at the noble shrine of 
Holy Cross Abbey, on the winding Suir, and, the legiti- 
mate according to English notions Earl of Desmond 
being dead, set up an earl of his own. He "put heart 
into" the rather slow and cautious Catholic Anglo-Nor- 
mans of this province, and caused them to join hands with 
their Celtic brothers in defence of country and creed. 
Under the new earl, they attacked the English with great 
spirit, and, although occasionally beaten, managed to hold 
I the upper hand in most cases. 

150 The People's History of Ireland 

In Leinster, the O'Mores, the O'Byrnes, the OTuhills, 
and the Kavanaghs had also risen in arms, and never had 
Ireland presented so united a military front, since the 
first landing of the English on her shore. There was 
fighting everywhere, but, outside of O'Neill and O'Don- 
nell, and, perhaps, the new Desmond, there would not 
seem to have been a concerted military plan probably 
owing to the rather long distances between the respective 
bodies and the difficulty of communication. 

Queen Elizabeth, when she heard of the Irish triumph 
at the Yellow Ford, was violently exasperated, and 
stormed against Ormond, her Lord Lieutenant, for re- 
maining in Leinster, skirmishing with the O'Mores and 
other secondary forces, and leaving everything in the 
hands of O'Neill in Ulster. She was now an aged 
woman, but still vain and thirsty for admiration. Her 
reigning favorite was the brilliant Robert Devereux, 
Earl of Essex, who had made a reputation in the Span- 
ish wars. In the middle of 1599, this favored warrior, 
accompanied by a picked force of at least 20,000 men, 
landed in Dublin and assumed chief command. Instead 
of at once moving with his fine army, reinforced by the 
Palesmen and the relics of Norreys' and Bagnal's troops, 
against O'Neill, he imitated the dilatory tactics of Or- 
mond and wasted away his strength in petty encounters 
with the hostile tribes of Leinster and the Anglo-Irish 
of Munster, most of whom sided, because of common 
religious belief, with their Celtic neighbors. He also 
committed the grave fault of bestowing high command 
on favorites who possessed no capacity for such duties. 
While marching to besiege Cahir Castle, in the present 
county of Tipperary, he was obliged to pass through a 

The People's History of Ireland 151 

wooded defile in Leix (Queen's County), where his rear- 
guard of cavalry was attacked by the fierce O' Mores and 
cut to pieces. The Irish tore the white plumes from 
the helmets of the fallen English troopers, as trophies, 
and so great was their number that the gorge has been 
called, ever since that tragical day, Bearna-na-cleite in 
English, the "Pass of Plumes." Essex, notwithstand- 
ing this disaster, which he made no immediate effort to 
avenge, marched to Cahir and took the castle; but, in 
subsequent encounters with the Munster Irish, he suf- 
fered severe reverses. Near Croom, in Limerick, he 
was met by the Geraldines and their allies and badly 
defeated. Sir Thomas Norreys, Lord President of 
Munster brother of the defeated English commander 
at Clontibret was among the slain. Thus baffled, the 
haughty Essex made his way sadly back to Dublin, pur- 
sued for a whole week by the victorious Geraldines. 
Smarting under his disgrace, he caused the decimation 
of an English regiment that had fled from the O'Mores 
something he himself had also been in the habit of 
doing. He had no heart to try conclusions with the 
terrible O'Neill in his Ulster fastnesses, and sent many 
letters of excuse to the queen, in which he dwelt on 
the strength and courage of the Irish clansmen in war, 
and asked for further reinforcements, before venturing 
against O'Neill. These were sent him, to the number 
of several thousand, and, at length, he seemed ready to 
move. Sir Conyers Clifford, a very brave and skilful 
officer, commanded for Elizabeth in Connaught. Essex 
ordered him to march into Ulster and seize certain 
strategic points that would open the way for the main 
army when it should finally appear in the North. Clif- 

152 The People's History of Ireland 

ford obeyed his orders with veteran promptitude. He 
was soon at Boyle, in the present county of Roscommon, 
where he went into camp near the beautiful abbey, whose 
ruins are still the admiration of antiquarians. Thence, 
he marched northward through the passes of the Corslibh, 
or Curlew, Mountains, bent upon penetrating into Ulster. 
But, in a heavily timbered ravine, he was fallen upon 
by the fierce clansmen of Red Hugh O'Donnell, com- 
manded by their fiery chief in person. When the En- 
glish heard the terrible war-cry of "O'Donnell Aboo!" 
("O'Donnell to Victory") echoing along the pass, they 
knew their hour had come. However, they met their 
fate like brave men, worthy of their gallant commander, 
and fought desperately, although in vain. They were 
soon totally broken and fell in heaps under the stalwart 
blows of the Clan-O'Donnell. General Clifford and his 
second in command, Sir Henry Ratcliffe, were killed, 
and their infantry, unable to stem the tide of battle, fled 
in disorder, carrying with them the cavalry, under Gen- 
eral Jephson, a cool commander who displayed all the 
qualities of a good soldier although completely over- 
matched. Had he not gallantly covered the retreat, 
hardly a man of the English infantry would have reached 
Boyle in safety. But the valor of Jephson did not ex- 
tend to all of his men, some of whom abandoned the field 
ratker precipitately. The English historian, Moryson, 
excuses them on the ground that "their ammunition was 
all spent." Sligo, the key of North Connaught, fell to 
O'Donnell, as one result of this sharp engagement. 

The defeat and death of Clifford would seem to have 
utterly demoralized Essex. He again hesitated to ad- 
vance against O'Neill, and, instead of doing so, weakly 

The People's History of Ireland 153 

sought a parley with his able enemy. O'Neill agreed to 
the proposal, and they met near Dundalk, on the banks 
of a river and in presence of their chief officers. The 
Irish general, with chivalrous courtesy, spurred his 
charger half-way across the stream, but Essex remained 
on the opposite bank. This, however, did not prevent 
the two leaders from holding a protracted conversation, 
in the course of which the wily O'Neill completely out- 
witted the English peer. They called five officers on both 
sides into the conference, and O'Neill repeated the terms 
he offered after the victory of Clontibret, in 1595. The 
Englishman said he did not think them extravagant, but 
his sincerity was never tested. Soon afterward, angered 
by an epistolary outburst from the old queen, he threw 
up his command, and returned to the London court, where 
Elizabeth swore at him, ordered him under arrest, had 
him tried for treason, and, finally, beheaded the only 
cruel act of her stormy life she ever repenied of. The axe 
that severed the head of Essex from his body left a scar 
in -Elizabeth's withered heart that never healed. 


King Philip Sends Envoys to O'Neill The Earl of Mountjoy 
Lord Deputy 

PHILIP II of Spain died in September, 1598, and was 
succeeded by his son Philip III, who, it would seem, 
took more interest in the Irish struggle against Elizabeth's 
temporal and spiritual power than did his father. Philip, 
in all likelihood, cared very little about Ireland's national 
aspirations, but, like all of his race, he was a zealous Cath- 
olic, and recognized the self-evident fact that the Irish 

154 The People's History of Ireland 

were, then, fighting not alone their own battle but also 
that of the Church, with heroic vigor. O'Neill began 
negotiations with the young monarch immediately after 
his accession, and Philip responded by sending two en- 
voys to the Irish general Don Martin de la Cerda and 
the Most Rev. Matthias de Oriedo, who had been ap- 
pointed by the Pope Archibishop of Dublin a purely 
titular .office, seeing that the English were in full posses- 
sion of that capital. The bishop presented O'Neill with 
"a Phoenix plume," blessed by his Holiness, and also with 
22,000 pieces of gold a generous contribution in that 
age, when money was much more valuable in proportion 
than it is now. (O'Sullivan, Moryson, and Mitchel.) 

O'Neill, having sufficiently awed the English generals 
for a period, made a sort of "royal progress" through 
Munster and Leinster, visiting holy places, settling feuds, 
and inspecting military forces. He met with, practically, 
no opposition, but, near Cork, had the misfortune to lose 
his gallant cavalry commander, Hugh McGuire, chief of 
Fermanagh. The latter was leading a body of horse on 
a reconnoitring mission, when suddenly there appeared a 
force of English cavalry, bent on a similar errand, under 
Sir Warham St. Leger and Sir Henry Power, Queen's 
Commissioners, acting in place of Sir Thomas Norreys. 
St. Leger rode up to McGuire and discharged a horse 
pistol at close range. The heroic Irish chief reeled in 
his saddle from a mortal wound, but, before falling, struck 
St. Leger a crushing blow on the head with his truncheon, 
and killed him on the spot. McGuire, having avenged 
himself on his enemy, died on the instant. These were 
the only two who fell. The English retreated to Cork 
and kept within its walls until O'Neill had left the neigh- 

The People's History of Ireland 155 

borhood. The Ulstej prince turned back through Or- 
mond and Westmeath and arrived in his own country, 
"without meeting 1 an enemy, although there was then in 
Ireland a royal army amounting, after all the havoc made 
in it during the past year, to 14,400 foot and 1,230 horse" 
this, too, exclusive of irregular forces. (Moryson.) 
This force was well provided with artillery and all mili- 
tary stores. (Mitchel.) 

But O'Neill's days of almost unclouded triumph were 
drawing to a close. He was, at last, about to meet an 
English commander who, if not as able as himself, was 
infinitely more cunning and unscrupulous. This was 
Charles Blount, Earl of Mount joy, a trained soldier, a 
veteran diplomat, a fierce Protestant theologian, and a 
ripe scholar. His motto, on assuming the duties of Lord 
Deputy in Ireland, would seem to have been "Divide and 
Conquer." Mountjoy saw, at once, that steel alone could 
not now subdue Ireland, and he was determined to resort 
to other methods, more potent but less manly. About the 
same time, there also came to Ireland two other famous 
English generals, Sir George Carew and Sir Henry 
Dowcra. The new deputy brought with him large rein- 
forcements, so that the English army in Ireland was more 
powerful than it had ever been before; and Mountjoy' s 
orders were, in effect, that Ulster, in particular, should 
be honeycombed with royal garrisons, especially along 
its coast-line. Although Mountjoy himself was checked, 
at the outset, by O'Neill's army, Sir Henry Dowcra, with 
a powerful force, transported by sea from Carrickfergus, 
occupied and fortified the hill of Derry, on the Foyle 
the ground on which now stands the storied city of Lon- 
donderry. Other border garrisons were strengthened by 

156 The People's History of Ireland 

the Lord Deputy, and everything was made ready for a 
vigorous prosecution of the war. The penal laws against 
the Irish Catholics were softened, so as > if possible, to 
detach the Anglo-Irish Catholics from the Celtic Catholic 
Irish, and also to impress the weak-kneed among the lat- 
ter with "the friendly intentions of her Majesty's gov- 
ernment" very much like the court language in use to- 
day. The bait took, as might have been expected for 
every good cause has its Iscariots and we soon hear of 
jealous kinsmen of the patriot chiefs "coming over to" 
the queen's "interest" and doing their utmost the heart- 
less scoundrels to divide and distract the strength of 
their country, engaged in a deadly struggle for her rights 
and liberty. These despicable wretches are foul blotches 
on the pages of Ireland's history. But for them, she 
could have finally shaken off the English yoke, which 
would have saved Ireland centuries of martyrdom and 
England centuries of shame. And so we find Sir Arthur 
O'Neill becoming "the queen's O'Neill" his branch of 
the family had long been in the English interest ; Connor 
Roe McGuire becoming "the queen's McGuire," and so 
on ad nauseam. These creatures had no love for Eng- 
land or Elizabeth, but simply hoped to further their own 
selfish ends by disloyalty to their chiefs and treason to 
their country. We confess that this is a chapter of Irish 
history from which we would gladly turn in pure disgust 
did not our duty, as a writer of history, compel us to 
dwell upon it yet a while longer. Dermot O'Connor, who 
held a command under O'Neill's Desmond in Munster, 
yielded to the seductions of Carew and turned upon his 
leader, in the interest of his brother-in-law, son of the 
"great earl," who was held as a hostage Jn London 

The People's History of Ireland 157 

Tower by Elizabeth, and was now used as a firebrand 
to stir up feud and faction among the Munster Irish. 
Mount joy had not been many months in Ireland, when, 
to use the words of the historian Mitchel, "a network of 
English intrigue and perfidy covered the land, until the 
leaders of the (Irish) confederacy in Munster knew 
not whom to trust, or where they were safe from treason 
and assassination." Dermot O'Connor was willing to 
surrender Desmond, whom he had kidnapped, to Mount- 
joy, for a thousand pounds, but, before he could receive 
his blood-money, the "Suggawn (hay- rope) Earl," as 
he was called in derision by the English faction, was 
rescued by his kinsman, Pierce Lacy. But the White 
Knight frightful misnomer another relative of the earl 
was more fortunate than O'Connor. He managed to 
receive the thousand pounds, delivered Desmond to Carew, 
and earned enduring infamy. The "Suggawn Earl" was 
sent to London and died a miserable prisoner in the 

Thus, the policy of the Lord Deputy was doing its 
deadly work in Munster and also in Leinster, where the 
Irish were of mixed race, and where racial animosity 
could be more easily worked upon than in Ulster and 
Connaught, where most of the ancient clans still re- 
mained unbroken and uncontaminated by foreign influ- 
ences. Yet Ulster and Connaught had their Benedict 
Arnolds, too, as we have shown in the cases of O'Neill 
and McGuire, and will show in other cases which yet re- 
main to be mentioned. But in these provinces the war 
was national as well as religious, while in Munster it 
was almost entirely religious. Most of the Catholic An- 
glo-Irish would have fought with the English rather than 

158 The People's History of Ireland 

the Celtic Irish, if their religion had been tolerated from 
the first. Among the Celtic Irish chiefs who went over 
to the English in Munster, were O' Sullivan More and 
McCarthy More (the Great). The latter had the cow- 
ardly excuse that his strong-minded wife had coerced him 
into treason, and refused to live with him until he came 
to terms with the enemy. Was there ever anything more 
disgraceful in the history of manhood and womanhood? 
They were, indeed, a couple entirely worthy of each other. 
The Lord Deputy, in the meantime, had ravaged the "re- 
bellious" portions of Leinster, burning houses and crops, 
and doing other evil things common to the savage war- 
fare of that period. His greatest piece of luck, however, 
was the killing of the brave O'More of Leix in a skirmish. 


Ireland's Fortunes Take a Bad Turn Defeat of O'Neill and 
O'Donnell at Kinsale . 

English force in Ireland was now (1600-1601) 
J- overwhelming, and as the Irish had no fleet what- 
ever, the English were enabled to plant garrisons, almost 
wherever they wished to, around the Ulster coast, and 
sometimes posts were also established in the interior of 
the country. Thus Derry, Dun-na-long, Lifford, and nu- 
merous other places held strong garrisons, and these sal- 
lied forth at will the small Irish army being actively 
engaged elsewhere and inflicted heavy damage on the 
harmless people of the surrounding districts. The proc- 
ess of crop-burning was in full blast again, and such Irish 
people as escaped the sword and the halter had the hor- 

The People's History of Ireland 159 

rible vision of perishing by famine ever before their eyes. 
O'Neill and O'Donnell were aware of all this, and did 
the best they could, under such discouraging circum- 
stances. They were almost at the end of their resources, 
and awaited anxiously for the aid, in men and money, 
solemnly promised them by the envoy of Philip of Spain. 
To add to their ever-growing embarrassment, Niall Garbh 
("the Rough") O'Donnell, cousin of Red Hugh, and the 
fiercest warrior of Clan-Conal, revolted, because of some 
fancied slight, and also, no doubt, inflamed by unworthy 
ambition, against the chief, and went over to the enemy. 
Unfortunately, some of the clansmen, who did not look 
beyond personal attachment, followed his dishonored for- 
tunes, but this was about the only serious case of clan 
defection. The great body of the Irish galloglasses and 
kerns heavy and light infantry remained true to 
their country and their God, and died fighting for both 
to the last. 

Niall Garbh, after allying himself with the English, 
occupied the beautiful Franciscan monastery of Donegal, 
in which the Annals of the Four Masters, Ireland's chron- 
ological history, were compiled. Red Hugh, fiercely 
indignant, marched against the sacrilegious traitor and 
laid siege to him in the holy place. After three months' 
investment, it was taken by storm, and utterly destroyed 
by fire, except for a few walls which still remain. The 
traitor's brother, Conn O'Donnell, and several of the 
misguided clansmen were killed in the conflict, but, un- 
fortunately, Niall Garbh himself escaped, to still further 
disgrace the heroic name of O'Donnell and injure the 
hapless country that gave birth to such a monster. 

Mountjoy, after frequent indecisive skirmishes with 

Ireland 8 YoL L 

160 The People's History of Ireland 

O'Neill, amused himself by offering a reward of 2,000 
for that chieftain's head, and smaller amounts for those 
of his most important lieutenants. But no man was 
found among the faithful clansmen of Tyrone to murder 
his chief for the base bribe of the Lord Deputy. Yet 
Mountjoy continued to gain ground in Ulster, little by 
little, and he built more forts, commanding important 
passes, and garrisoned them in great force. He also 
caused most of the woods to be cut away, and thus laid 
the O'Neill territory wide open for a successful invasion. 
O'Neill was an admirable officer, and still, assisted by 
Hugh O'Donnell, presented a gallant front to Mountjoy, 
but he could do little that was effective against an enemy 
who had five times the number of soldiers that he had, 
and could thus man important posts, filled with all the 
munitions of war, without sensibly weakening his force 
in the field. Destitute of foundries and powder fac- 
tories, he could make no progress in the matter of artil- 
lery, and such cannon as he had were destitute of proper 
ammunition. All this the Spaniards could have supplied, 
but their characteristic dilatoriness, in the end, ruined 
everything. Another circumstance also militated against 
the success of the brave O'Neill the English and their 
allies were solidly unified for the destruction of the Irish, 
while the latter, as we have seen, were fatally divided by 
corruption, ambition, jealousy fostered by their enemies 
and endless English intrigue. No wonder that his 
broad brow grew gloomy and that his sword no longer 
struck the blows it dealt so fiercely at Clontibret and the 
Yellow Ford. 

At last, however, out of the dark clouds that sur- 
rounded his fortunes, there flashed one sun-ray of hope 

The People's History of Ireland 161 

and joy. News suddenly reached the north, as well as 
the Lord Deputy, that a Spanish fleet had landed in Kin- 
sale Harbor, on the coast of Cork. It carried a small 
force less than 6,000 men, mostly of poor quality un- 
der the command of the arrogant and incompetent Don 
Juan de Agnila. He occupied Kinsale and the surround- 
ing forts at once, but was disappointed when the Munster 
Irish already all but crushed by Mountjoy did not 
flock at once, and in great numbers, to his standard. Of 
all the Munster chiefs there responded only O' Sullivan 
Beare, O'Connor Kerry, and the brave O'Driscoll. They 
alone redeemed, in as far as they could, the apathy of 
South Munster, and were justified in resenting the Span- 
ish taunt, bitterly uttered by Don Juan himself, that 
"Christ had never died for such people." The Spaniard 
did not, of course, take into consideration, because he did 
not know, the exhaustion of South Munster after the Ger- 
aldine war and the wars which succeeded it. Constant 
defeat is a poor tonic on which to build up a boldly aggres- 
sive patriotism. 

The news of the landing at Kinsale reached Red Hugh 
O'Donnell while he was in the act of besieging his own 
castle of Donegal, surreptitiously seized "by Niall Garbh, 
"the Queen's O'Donnell," while he was absent "at the 
front," with O'Neill. He instantly raised the siege, and, 
summoning all of his forces, marched southward with- 
out an hour's delay, as became his ardent and gallant 
nature. Neither did O'Neill hesitate to abandon "the 
line of the Blackwater," which guarded his own castle 
of Dungannon, to its fate, and at once marched his 
forces toward Kinsale. The Clan-Conal marched 
at "the route step," through Breffni and Hy-Many, 

162 The People's History of Ireland 

crossing the Shannon near where it narrows at the 
east end of Lough Dearg. On through the Ormonds, 
where "the heath-brown Slieve Bloom" mountains rise 
in their beauty, they pressed, burning, at every footstep, 
to reach Kinsale, join the Spaniards, and "have it out" 
with Mountjoy and the English. O'Donnell, marching 
in lighter order and by a different route, outstripped his 
older confederate, but narrowly escaped being inter- 
cepted in Tipperary by a superior English force, under 
General Carew, detached by the Lord Deputy for that 
purpose. As Red Hugh had no intention of giving bat- 
tle until reinforced by O'Neill, or he had joined the Span- 
iards, he made a clever flank movement, by forced march, 
over the Slieve Felim Hills, which interposed between 
him and Limerick. But the rains had been heavy of late, 
the mountain passes were boggy, and neither horses nor 
carriages (wagons) could pass. Fortunately, it was the 
beginning of winter, and, one night, there came a sharp 
frost, which sufficiently hardened the ground, and the 
Irish army, taking advantage of the kindness of Provi- 
dence, marched ahead throughout the dark hours, and, 
by morning, had left Carew and his army hopelessly in 
rear. O'Donnell made thirty-two miles ^Irish), about 
forty-two English miles, in that movement ar d halted 
at Croom, having accomplished the greatest march, with 
baggage, recorded in those hard campaigns. (Pacata 
Hibernia, cited by Mitchel.) 

His coming among them, as well as the news of the 
arrival of the Spaniards, put fresh life into the Irish of 
West Munster, and, indeed, Red Hugh stood on scant 
ceremony with such degenerate Irish as refused to fight 
for their country, so that wherever he marched, fresh 

The People's History of Ireland 16? 

patriots, eager to "save their bacon," in many cases 
sprang- up like crops of mushrooms. At Castlehaven he 
formed a junction with 700 newly arrived Spanish troops 
and, together, they marched toward Kinsale, which 
Mount joy and Carew were preparing to invest. O'Neill 
and his brave lieutenant, Richard Tyrrell, did not pursue 
the route taken by O'Donnell, but had to fight their way 
through Leinster and North Munster with considerable 
loss. At Bandon, in South Munster, they fell in with 
O'Donnell and the Spaniards, and all marched to form an 
immediate junction with De Aguila. Mitchel, quoting 
from O' Sullivan's narrative, gives the total strength of 
the force under O'Neill and O'Donnell at 6,000 foot and 
500 horse. The Irish leader was opposed to risking a 
general engagement with so small a command, although 
O'Donnell, when he beheld Mount joy's troops beleaguer- 
ing the town, wanted to attack, which, judging by after 
events, might have been the better plan. O'Neill argued, 
however, that the inclement season would soon destroy 
a good part of the English soldiers and counseled delay. 
O'Donnell yielded reluctantly, and then the Irish, very 
badly provided, intrenched themselves and began "besieg- 
ing the besiegers." Prudence, on this occasion, ruined 
the cause of Ireland so often ruined by rashness, before 
and since; for, three days after O'Neill's policy had been 
acceded to, that is on Christmas eve, 1601, accident 
brought on an engagement, in the dark, which neither 
party seems to have anticipated. The tragedy is best re- 
lated by Mitchel in his life of O'Neill, thus: "Before 
dawn, on the morning of the 24th (December), Sir 
Richard Graham, who commanded the night guard of 
horse, sent word to the deputy that the scouts had dis- 

164 The People's History of Ireland 

lovered die matches (matchlock muskets were used at 
this period) flashing in great numbers in the darkness, 
and that O'Neill must be approaching the camp in force. 
Instantly the troops were called to arms; messengers 
were despatched to the Earl of Thomond's quarter, with 
orders to draw out his men. The deputy (Mountjoy) 
now advanced to meet the Irish, whom he supposed to 
be stealing on his camp, and seems to have effectually 
surprised them, while endeavoring to prevent a surprise 
upon himself. The infantry of O'Neill's army retired 
slowly about a mile further from the town, and made a 
stand on the bank of a ford, where their position was 
strengthened by a bog in flank. Wingfield, the marshal, 
thought he saw some confusion in their ranks, and en- 
treated the deputy that he might be allowed to charge. 
The Earl of Clanricarde joined the marshal and the bat- 
tle became general. O'Neill's cavalry repeatedly drove 
back both Wingfield and Clanricarde, until Sir Henry 
Danvers, with Captains Taaffe and Fleming, came up to 
their assistance, when, at length, the Irish infantry fell 
into confusion and fled. Another body of them, under 
Tyrrell, was still unbroken, and long maintained their 
ground on a hill, but at length, seeing their comrades 
routed, they also gave way and retreated in good order 
after their main body. The northern cavalry covered the 
retreat, and O'Neill and O'Donnell, by amazing personal 
exertions, succeeded in preserving order and preventing 
it from becoming a total rout." 

Such was the unfortunate battle of Kinsale the most 
disastrous, perhaps, in Irish annals. It was not even well 
fought, because the Irish troops, surprised in their sleep, 
owing to lack of vigilance on the part of the sentinels, had 

The People's History of Ireland 165 

lost most of their effective arms, their baggage, and col- 
ors at the outset. Their camp, also, came into immediate 
possession of the enemy. Thus, they were discouraged 
the Irish character being mercurial, like the French if 
not badly demoralized, and they did not, in this ill-fated 
action, fight with a resolution worthy of the fame they had 
rightfully earned as soldiers of the first class, nor did they 
faithfully respond, as heretofore, to the military genius 
of their justly renowned leaders. They were mostly the 
troops of Ulster, far from home, and lacking the inspira- 
tion that comes to all men when conscious that they are 
fighting to defend their own hearths against the spoiler. 
Ulster, in that day, was almost alien to the southern prov- 
ince, although the soldiers of both were fighting in a com- 
mon cause. Kinsale was, certainly, not a battle to which 
Ireland can look back with feelings of pride, but she may 
be thankful that there are few such gloomy failures re- 
corded in her military annals. Yet the bitter fact remains 
that Kinsale clouded forever the glory achieved by the 
troops of O'Neill and O'Donnell on so many fields of 
victory. The Spaniards, who had joined O'Donnell on 
the march, refused to fly and were almost all destroyed. 
Their commander, Del Campo, two officers, and forty sol- 
diers were all that survived out of seven hundred men, 
and they were made prisoners of war. (Mitchel.) In 
a note, this author, quoting Pacata Hibernia, says : "The 
most merciless of all Mountjoy's army that day was the 
Anglo-Irish and Catholic Earl of Clanricarde. He slew 
twenty of the Irish with his own hand, and cried aloud 
to 'spare no rebels.' Carew (the English general and 
writer) says that 'no man did bloody his sword more than 
his lordship that day.' ' This episode shows how well 

1 66 The People's History of Ireland 

Mountjoy's policy of "Divide and Conquer" and tem- 
porary toleration of the Catholics worked for the En- 
glish cause. Had the penal laws not been mitigated this 
Anglo-Irish and Catholic Earl of Clanricarde would have 
fought on the side of Ireland. 

De Aguila, seeing that the Irish army was defeated, 
and that another effort on the part of O'Neill was ren- 
dered impossible by the loss of his munitions and the 
lateness of the season, proposed to capitulate. The Earl 
of Mount joy offered him honorable terms, and De Aguila 
agreed to surrender to the English all the Irish castles on 
the coast to which Spanish garrisons had been admitted, 
"and shortly after," says Mitchel, "set sail for Spain, car- 
rying with him all his artillery, treasure, and military 
stores." Some of the Irish chiefs, notably the O'Sulli- 
van Beare, refused to ratify that part of De Aguila's 
capitulation which agreed to surrender their castles, oc- 
cupied by Spanish troops, to the English. The fortresses 
had been thrown open to the Spaniards in good faith, and 
General de Aguila had no moral right to give them up. 
The most he could agree to do was to withdraw his men 
from the Irish castles and take them back with him to 
Spain. And this was the view taken by the Irish chiefs, 
with bloody, but glorious, result, as we shall see. 

Sad Death of O'Donnell in Spain Heroic Defence of Dunboy 

O'NEILL, when he perceived the hopelessness of the 
Irish situation in Munster, conducted what re- 
mained of his defeated army back to the north and 
cantoned it along the Blackwater for the winter months, 

The People's History of Ireland 167 

where he felt quite sure the English, worn out by their 
exertions at the siege and battle of Kinsale, would not 
attack him. Red Hugh O'Donnell, exasperated beyond 
endurance at the disregard of his bold advice to attack 
the beleaguering English, in conjunction with the Span- 
iards, on the first arrival of the Irish army before 
Kinsale, gave up the command of his clan to his brother, 
Roderick, and, with a few followers, sailed for Spain, 
in search of further aid. He resolved to ask King Philip 
for an army, not a detachment. The chief landed at 
Coruna, and was received with high honors by the Span- 
ish authorities. He finally reached the Spanish Court 
and placed the whole Irish situation clearly before Philip, 
who promised a powerful force and actually gave orders 
to prepare at once for a new expedition to Ireland. The 
sad sequel is well told in the eloquent words of Mitchel : 
"But that armament never sailed, and poor O'Donnell 
never saw Ireland more; for news reached Spain, a few 
months after, that Dunboy Castle, the last stronghold 
in Munster that held out for King Philip, was taken, 
and Beare-haven, the last harbor in the South that was 
open to his ships, effectually guarded by the English; 
and the Spanish preparations were countermanded; and 
Red Hugh was once more on his journey to court to re- 
new his almost hopeless suit, and had arrived at Saman- 
cas, two leagues from Valladolid, when he suddenly fell 
sick. His gallant heart was broken and he died there 
on the loth of September, 1602. He was buried by order 
of the king with royal honors, as befitted a prince of the 
Kinel-Conal ; and the stately city of Valladolid holds the 
bones of as noble a chief and as stout a warrior as ever 
bore the wand of chieftaincy or led a clan to battle." 

1 68 The People's History of Ireland 

While we do not believe in "painting the devil blacker 
than he is," we think it proper to state here that more 
recent researches would seem to have fixed the crime of 
assassination on the Earl of Mount joy. In an account, 
quoted in several lectures by Frank Hugh O'Donnell, 
ex-member of the British Parliament, it is definitely 
stated that Red Hugh O'Donnell was poisoned at the 
inn in Samancas, where he died, by a hired murderer, 
named Blake, who acted for the English Lord Deputy. 
Such, if the statement is true, were the political ethics 
of the Elizabethan era. 

Donal O' Sullivan Beare, the bravest of all the Mun- 
ster leaders, wrested his castle of Dun-buidhe (Dunboy), 
in English, "Yellow Fort," from the Spaniards after De 
Aguila had agreed to surrender it to the English. He 
justified his conduct to the King of Spain in a pathetic 
letter in which he said: "Among other places that were 
neither yielded nor taken to the end that they might be 
delivered to the English, Don Juan tied himself up to de- 
liver my castle and haven, the only key to mine inheri- 
tance, whereupon the living of many thousand persons 
doth rest, that live some twenty leagues upon the sea- 
coast, into the hands of my cruel, cursed, misbelieving 

The defence of this castle by the Irish garrison of one 
hundred and forty-three men, commanded by O'Sulli- 
van's intrepid lieutenant, McGeoghegan, was one of the 
finest feats of arms recorded in history. Although only 
a square tower, with outworks, it held out against Gen- 
eral Carew, the Lord President, for fifteen days. It was 
bombarded by the fleet from the haven, and battered by 
artillery from the land side. Indeed, Carew had an 

The People's History of Ireland 169 

army of 4,000 veteran soldiers opposed to McGeoghegan's 
143 heroes. A breach was finally effected in the castle, 
but the storming parties were repeatedly repulsed. The 
great hall was finally carried, and the little garrison, un- 
der the undaunted McGeoghegan, retreated to the vaults 
beneath it, where they sustained the unequal conflict for 
four-and-twenty hours, and, by the exertion of unex- 
ampled prowess, at last cleared the hall of the English. 
The latter replied with an overwhelming cannonade, and 
the walls of the castle crumbled about the ears of its 
heroic defenders. The latter made a desperate sortie 
with only forty men and all perished. The survivors in 
the castle continued the defence, but, in the end, their 
noble commander, McGeoghegan, was mortally wounded 
and they laid down their arms. While their wounded 
chief lay gasping in the agonies of approaching death, 
on the floor of the vault, he saw the English enter the 
place. The sight seemed to renew his life and energy. 
He sprang to his feet, seized a torch, and made a rush 
for an open barrel of powder, intending to blow assail- 
ants and assailed into the sky. But an English soldier 
was too quick for the dying hero. He seized him in his 
arms, and a comrade wrested the torch from the failing 
hand and extinguished it. Then they ran their swords 
through McGeoghegan's body, and his glorious deeds and 
great sufferings were at an end. It should have been 
stated that ten of the garrison, who were of the party 
that made the sortie, on the failure of their bold effort, 
attempted to reach the mainland by swimming across 
the haven. . This movement was anticipated by the En- 
glish commander. Soldiers were stationed in boats to 
intercept the swimmers, and all were stabbed or shot, as 

170 The People's History of Ireland 

if they had been beasts of prey. The survivors of the 
band of Irish Spartans, who made Dunboy forever mem- 
orable in the annals of martial glory, were instantly 
hanged by order of Carew, so that not one of the heroic 
143 was left. Ruthless as he was, the Lord President 
himself, in an official letter, bore this testimony to their 
valor : "Not one man escaped ; all were slain, executed, or 
buried in the ruins, and so obstinate a defence hath not 
been seen within this kingdom." The defence of Dunboy 
Castle deserves to rank in history with Thermopylae and 
the Alamo of Texas, and the butchery of its surviv- 
ing defenders, in cold blood, was a disgrace to English 
manhood. How differently the gallant O'Neill treated 
the English prisoners taken at Armagh, Portmore, and 
other places in Ulster during the period of his amazing 
victories. It is cruelties of this character that made the 
English name abhorred in Ireland, not the prowess, or 
even the bloodthirstiness, of the English soldiery in the 
heat of battle. The massacre at Dunboy is an indelible 
stain on the memory of Lord President Carew. 


Wane of Irish Resistance O'Neill Surrenders to Mountjoy at 

WITH the fall of Dunboy, Ireland's heroic day was 
almost at an end for that generation. O'Sulli- 
van and some other Munster chiefs still held out, but their 
efforts were only desultory. O'Neill, accompanied by 
Richard Tyrrell, the faithful Anglo-Irish leader, rallied 
the remnants of his clan and attempted to hold again the 
line of the Blackwater. But the English were now too 
many to be resisted by a handful of brave men. They 

The People's History of Ireland 171 

closed upon him from every side, and advanced their 
posts through the country, so as to effectually cut him 
off from communication with Tyrconnel, whose chief 
on hearing of the death of his noble brother, Red Hugh, 
in Spain, made terms with the Lord Deputy. So, also, 
did many other Ulster chiefs, who conceived their cause 
to be hopeless. O'Neill, still hoping against hope, and 
thinking that a Spanish army might yet come to his aid, 
burned his castle of Dungannon to the ground, and re- 
tired to the wooded and mountainous portions of his an- 
cient principality, where he held out doggedly. But the 
Lord Deputy resorted to his old policy of destroying the 
growing crops, and, very soon, Tyrone, throughout its 
fairest and most fertile regions, was a blackened waste. 
Still the Red Hand continued to float defiantly through- 
out the black winter of 1602-3; but, at length, despair 
began to shadow the once bright hopes of the brave 
O'Neill. His daring ally, Donal O'Sullivan Beare, hav- 
ing lost all he possessed in Munster, set out at this in- 
clement season on a forced march from Glengariff, in 
Cork, to Breffni, in Leitrim, fighting his enemies all the 
way, crossing the Shannon in boats extemporized from 
willows and horsehides; routing an English force, under 
Colonel Malby, at the "pass of Aughrim," in Galway, 
destined to be more terribly memorable in another war 
for liberty; and, finally, reached O'Ruarc's castle, where 
he was hospitably welcomed, with only a small moiety 
of those who followed him from their home's, 

" Marching 

Over Murkerry's moors and Ormond's plain, 
His currochs the waves of the Shannon o'erarching 
And pathway mile-marked with the slain." 

172 The People's History of Ireland 

Even the iron heart of Hugh O'Neill could not main- 
tain its strength against conditions such as those thus 
described by Moryson, the Englishman, who can not be 
suspected of intensifying the horrid picture at the ex- 
pense of his own country's reputation: "No spectacle," 
he says, "was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and 
especially of wasted countries, than to see multitudes of 
poor people dead, with their mouths all colored green, 
by eating nettles, docks, and all things they could rend 
up above ground." There were other spectacles still 
more terrible, as related by the English generals and 
chroniclers themselves, but we will spare the details. 
They are too horrible for the average civilized being of 
this day to contemplate, although the age is by no means 
lacking in examples of human savagery which go to 
prove that the wild beast in the nature of man has not 
yet been entirely bred out. 

Baffled by gold, not by steel, by the torch rather than 
the sword, deprived of all his resources, deserted by his 
allies, and growing old and worn in ceaseless warfare, 
it can hardly be wondered at that O'Neill sent to the 
Lord Deputy, at the end of February, 1603, propositions 
of surrender. Mount joy was glad to receive them for 
the vision of a possible Spanish expedition, in great force, 
still disquieted him and arranged to meet the discom- 
fited Irish hero at Mellifont Abbey, in Louth, where died, 
centuries before, old, repentant, and despised, that faith- 
less wife of O'Ruarc, Prince of Breffni, whose sin first 
caused the Normans to set foot in Ireland. So anxious 
was Mount joy to conclude a peace, that nearly all of 
O'Neill's stipulations were concurred in, even to the 
free exercise of the Catholic religion in the subjugated 

The People's History of Ireland 173 

country. He and his allies were allowed to retain, under 
English "letters patent," their original tribe-lands, with 
a few exceptions in favor of the traitors who had fought 
with the English against their own kindred. It was in- 
sisted, however, by the Deputy, that all Irish titles, in- 
cluding that of "The O'Neill," should be dropped, thence- 
forth and forever, and the English titles of "nobility" 
substituted. All the Irish territory was converted into 
"shire ground." The ancient Brehon Law was abol- 
ished, and, for evermore, the Irish clans were to be gov- 
erned by English methods. Queen Elizabeth had died 
during the progress of the negotiations, and a secret 
knowledge of this fact no doubt influenced Mount joy in 
hurrying the treaty to its conclusion, and granting such, 
comparatively, favorable conditions to Hugh O'Neill 
and the other "rebellious" Irish chiefs. Therefore, it 
was to the representative of King James I that Tyrone, 
at last, yielded his sword not to the general of Eliza- 
beth. It is said that in the bitter last moments of that 
sovereign, her almost constant inquiry was : "What news 
from Ireland and that rascally O'Neill?" The latter's 
most elaborate historian estimates that the long war "cost 
England many millions in treasure, and the blood of tens 
of thousands of her veteran soldiers, and, from the face 
of Ireland, it swept nearly one-half of the entire popula- 
tion." (Mitchel.) And, he continues: "From that day 
(March 30, 1603, when O'Neill surrendered at Melli- 
font), the distinction of 'Pale' and 'Irish country* was at 
an end; and the authority of the kings of England and 
their (Anglo) Irish parliaments became, for the first 
time, paramount over the whole island. The pride of an- 
cient Erin the haughty struggle of Irish nationhood 

174 The People's History of Ireland 

against foreign institutions and the detested spirit of 
English imperialism, for that time, sunk in blood and 
horror, but the Irish nation is an undying essence, and 
that noble struggle paused for a season, only to recom- 
mence in other forms and on wider ground to be re- 
newed, and again renewed, until Ah! quousque, Dom- 
ine, quousque?" 


Treachery of James I to the Irish Chiefs "The Flight of the Earls" 

AT the outset of his reign, James I, of England, and 
VI of Scotland, collateral descendant of that Ed- 
ward Bruce who had been crowned King of the Irish 
in the beginning of the fourteenth century, promised to 
rule Ireland in a loving and paternal spirit. He had 
received at his London court, with great urbanity, Hugh 
O'Neill and Roderick O'Donnell, and had confirmed 
them in their English titles of Earl of Tyrone and Earl 
of Tyrconnel, respectively. They had accompanied 
Mountjoy to England, to make their "submissions" in 
due form before the king, and, while en route through 
that country, were grossly insulted at many points by 
the common people, who could not forget their relatives 
lying dead in heaps in Irish soil, because of the prowess 
of the chieftains who were now the guests of England. 
It is most remarkable that the English people have al- 
ways honored and hospitably entertained the distin- 
guished "rebels" of all countries but Ireland. Refu- 
gees from Poland, from Austria, from Hungary, from 
France, from Italy many of them charged with using 
assassin methods have been warmly welcomed in Lon- 
don, and even protected by the courts of law, as in the 

The People's History of Ireland 175 

case of the Orsini-infernal-machine conspirators against 
Napoleon III, in 1859; but no Irish "rebel 1 " has ever 
been honored, or sheltered, or defended by the English 
people, or the English courts of law ; although individual 
Englishmen, like Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and a few 
others of their calibre, have written and spoken in asser- 
tion of Ireland's right to a separate existence. Of course, 
the reason is that all the other "rebels" fought in "good 
causes," and, according to English political ethics, no 
cause can possibly be just in which the right of England 
to govern any people whatever against their will is con- 
tested. America learned that bitter lesson nearly two 
centuries after O'Neill and O'Donnell were hooted and 
stoned by the English populace for having dared to de- 
fend the rights and the patrimony of their people. 

The Catholic religion continued to be tolerated by 
James until 1605, when, suddenly, a penal statute of 
the time of Elizabeth was unearthed and put into opera- 
tion with full force. Treaty obligations of England 
with the Irish chiefs were also systematically violated. 
The lands of Ulster were broad and fair, and the great 
body of military adventurers who had come into Ireland 
from England during the long wars of the preceding 
reign, were greedy for spoil. These and the Irish traitors 
Art O'Neill, Niall Garbh O'Donnell, the false Mc- 
Guire, and the rest pestered the government and made 
never-ending charges of plots and "treasons" against 
"the earls," as the Irish leaders of the late war now came 
to be called. The plotters were ably assisted by Robert 
Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, ancestor of the late Marquis 
of Salisbury, who was also his namesake. Another able 
English conspirator against the Irish chiefs was Sir 

176 The People's History of Ireland 

Arthur Chichester, who became one of the chief benefi- 
ciaries of the subsequent "confiscations," and whose 
descendants still hold, as "titled nobility," a very com- 
fortable slice of ancient Ulster. Some "Reformed" bish- 
ops also took great interest in getting the earls into hot 
water with the government. Finally an alleged plot on 
the part of O'Neill and O'Donnell to overthrow the 
King of England's government in Ulster an absurdity 
on its face, considering their fallen and helpless condi- 
tion was made the pretext for summoning them to ap- 
pear before the English courts established in Ireland, in 
whose justice they had no confidence, remembering the 
ghastly fate of MacMahon Roe. A hired perjurer, 
named O'Cahan the unworthy scion of a noble house 
was to be chief "witness" against O'Neill, and no 
secret was made of the fact that others would be forth- 
coming, hired by Chichester, to finish the work begun 
by the principal informer. Meanwhile the free exercise 
of the Catholic religion so solemnly guaranteed by 
Mount joy was strictly prohibited, under the penal en- 
actment of Elizabeth, known as the "Act of Uniform- 
ity," already referred to; and again began those horrid 
religious persecutions, for polities' and plunder's sake, 
which had no termination in Ireland, except for one 
brief period, during nearly two centuries. Such Catho- 
lics as desired to practice their faith had to betake them- 
selves to the mountain recesses, or the caves of the sea- 
coast, where, before rude altars, Mass was celebrated by 
priests on whose heads a penal price was set. Sheriffs 
and judges, attended by large bands of soldiers, made 
circuit of the new Ulster "counties" and succeeded in 
completely terrifying the unfortunate Catholic inhabi- 

The People's History of Ireland 177 

tants. Education, as far as Catholics were concerned, 
was prohibited, and then began that exodus of Irish 
ecclesiastical students to the Continent of Europe, which 
continued down to the reign of William IV, not- 
withstanding the partial mitigation of the penal laws, 
in the reign of his father, and the passage of the 
Catholic Emancipation Bill during his brother's reign, 
A.D. 1829. 

The persecuted earls clearly saw there was no hope of 
peace for them in Ireland, and that their presence only 
wrought further ill to their faithful clansmen, now re- 
duced, for the first time, to the condition of "subjects" of 
the King of England. Lord Howth, a powerful Catholic 
noble of the Pale, was suspected of having given infor- 
mation to the Lord Deputy of a meeting held at May- 
nooth the previous Christmas at which the earls and sev- 
eral Anglo-Catholic noblemen were present. It was 
claimed that the enforcement of the Act of Uniformity 
was there discussed, and that another effort to overthrow 
the English power would be made by the parties to the 
meeting. This "plot," if there were any at all, was com- 
municated to the Clerk of the Privy Council by an 
anonymous letter dropped at the Castle of Dublin in 
March, 1607. "O'Neill," says McGee, "was with Chi- 
chester, at Slane, in September when he received a let- 
ter from the McGuire not the traitor of that title who 
had been abroad, conveying some startling information 
upon which Tyrone seems to have acted at once. He took 
leave of the Lord Deputy, as if to prepare for a journey 
to London, whither he had been summoned on some false 
pretext; and, after spending a few days with his old 
friend, Sir Garrett Moore, at Mellifont, repaired to his 

178 The People's History of Ireland 

seat of Dungannon, where he, at once, assembled all of 
his immediate family and all proceeded to the shores of 
Lough S willy, at Rathmullen, where they were joined by 
Roderick O'Donnell and all of his household. They em- 
barked immediately on the French ship which had con- 
veyed McGuire to Ireland, and set sail for France, where, 
on landing, they were warmly welcomed and royally en- 
tertained by the chivalric King Henry IV, who, as became 
a stout soldier and able captain, greatly admired the 
prowess displayed in the Ulster wars by Hugh O'Neill. 
There sailed to France with the latter his last countess, 
daughter of McGenniss of Iveagh; his three sons, Hugh, 
John, and Brian; his nephew, Art O'Neill, son of Cormac, 
and many of lesser note. With O'Donnell sailed his 
brother Cathbar; his fair sister, Nuala, wife of Niall 
Garbh, who had, in righteous indignation, forsaken the 
traitor when he drew the sword against Ireland and 
her noble brother, Red Hugh; the lady Rose O'Doherty, 
wife of Cathbar, and, after his death, of Owen O'Neill; 
McGuire, Owen Mac Ward, the chief bard of Tyrconnel, 
and several others. It proved to be a fatal voyage, for 
it exiled forever the best and bravest of the Irish chiefs. 
Well might the Four Masters in their Annals of the suc- 
ceeding generation say: "Woe to the heart that medi- 
tated, woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the council 
that decided on the project of voyage, without knowing 
whether they should to the end of their lives be able to 
return to their ancient principalities and patrimonies." 
And, adds the graphic Mitchel, "with gloomy looks and 
sad forebodings, the clansmen of Tyrconnel gazed upon 
that fatal ship, 'built in the eclipse and rigged with curses 
dark,' as she dropped down Lough Swilly, and was hidden 

The People's History of Ireland 179 

behind the cliffs of Fanad Head. They never saw their 
chieftains more." 

Everything was now settled in Ulster, for the English 
interest, except for the brief "rebellion" of Sir Cahir 
O'Doherty, the young chief of Inishowen, who fell out 
with Sir George Powlett of Derry, and flew at once to 
arms. He made a brave struggle of some months' dura- 
tion, but, as no aid reached him from any outside quarter, 
he was speedily penned up in his own small territory, and, 
fighting to the last, died the death of a soldier the no- 
blest death he could have died, surrounded by the armies 
of Marshal Wingfield and Sir Oliver Lambert, on the 
rock of Doon, near Kilmacrenan, in August, 1608. Thus 
went out the last spark of Ulster valor for a generation. 

King James, having used Niall Garbh O'Donnell for 
all he was worth to the English cause, grew tired of his 
importunities and had him conveyed to England, under 
guard, together with his two sons. All three were im- 
prisoned in the Tower of London from which the traitor, 
at least, never emerged again. He met a fate he richly 
merited. Cormac O'Neill, the brave captor of Armagh, 
and the legitimate O'Cahan, both of whom had incurred 
the hatred of Chichester, also perished in the same gloomy 

And now all that remained to be done was to parcel 
out the lands of the conquered Ultonians and others of 
"the Meer Irish'' between the captains of the new con- 
quest. Chichester was given the whole of O'Doherty's 
country, the peninsula of Inishowen, and to this was 
added O'Neill's former borough of Dungannon, with 
1,300 acres of valuable land in the neighborhood of 
the town. Wingfield was created Lord Powerscourt and 

i8o The People's History of Ireland 

obtained the beautiful district of Fercullen, near Dublin 
one of the most charming domains in all Europe. 
Lambert became Earl of Cavan and had several rich es- 
tates, including that of Carrig, bestowed upon him in ad- 
dition. All the counties of Ulster were declared forfeited 
to the Crown of England. The primate and other Prot- 
estant prelates of Ulster claimed, and received, 43,000 
acres. Trinity College, Dublin, received 30,000 acres, in 
Tyrone, Derry, and Armagh, together with six advow- 
sons, or Church beneficies, in each county. The various 
guilds, or trades, of the city of London, England, ob- 
tained the gross amount of 209,800 acres, including the 
city of Derry, to which the name of "London" was then 
prefixed. Grants to individuals were divided into three 
classes of 2,000, 1,500, and 1,000 acres each. Catholic 
laborers were required to take the oath of supremacy- 
acknowledging King James as spiritual head of the 
Church which they, notwithstanding all their misfor- 
tunes, nobly refused to do. In the end, seeing that the 
fields would remain uncultivated for the most part, the 
English and Scotch "undertakers," or settlers, for pru- 
dence' sake, rather than from liberal motives, practically 
made this tyrannical requirement a dead letter. But the 
Catholic tillers of the soil were driven from the fertile 
plains and forced to cultivate miserable patches of land 
in the bogs or on the mountains. When these became in 
any degree valuable, an exorbitant "rent" was charged, 
and the poor Catholics, utterly unable to pay it, were 
again compelled to move to some even more unpromising 
location, where the same procedure again and again pro- 
duced the same wretched result. 

It was thus that the ancient Irish clans, and families, 

The People's History of Ireland 181 

were actually robbed, in spite of solemn treaties and royal 
pledges, of their rightful inheritance, and that strangers 
and "soulless corporations" became lords of their soil. 
It was the beginning, in Ulster at least, of that system 
of "felonious landlordism" which is the curse of all Ire- 
land, in spite of recent remedial measures, even in this 
day. So, too, began that English garrison in Ireland 
pitting race against race and creed against creed which 
has divided, distracted, and demoralized the Irish nation 
ever since. The "Plantation of Ulster" was the most 
fatal measure ever carried into effect by English policy 
in Ireland. Some of the Irish princes did not long sur- 
vive their exile. From France they had proceeded to 
Rome and were very kindly received by the Pontiff, who 
placed residences commensurate with their rank and fame 
at their disposal. Roderick O'Donnell died in the Eter- 
nal City in July, 1608. McGuire died at Genoa, while 
en route to Spain in August, and, in September, Cathbar 
O'Donnell also passed away, and was laid in the same 
grave with his gallant brother, on St. Peter's Hill. (Mc- 
Gee.) O'Neill's fate was sadder still. The historian 
just quoted says of him: "He survived his comrades 
as he did his fortunes, and, like another Belisarius, blind 
and old, and a pensioner on the bounty of strangers, he 
lived on eight weary years in Rome." Death came to his 
relief, according to a historian of his own period, in 1616, 
when he must have been over seventy years of age. He 
sleeps his last sleep amid the consecrated dust of ages, 
beneath the flagstones of the convent of St. Isidore; and 
there, in the words of the Irish orator and American gen- 
eral, Meagher, "the fiery hand that rent the ensign of St. 
George on the plains of Ulster has mouldered into dust." 



Ireland 9 

VoL I. 

Confiscations and Penal Laws The Iron Rule of Lord Strafford 

first Anglo-Irish Parliament held within a pe- 
l riod of twenty-seven years was summoned to meet 
in Dublin on May 18, 1613, and, notwithstanding the 
Act of Uniformity, it would appear that quite a large 
number of Catholics, styled in the language of the times 
"recusants," because of their opposition to the spiritual 
supremacy of the king, were elected to serve in that body. 
They would have had a majority but for the creation of 
some forty "boroughs," each entitled to a member, un- 
der the patronage of some Protestant peer. This was 
the beginning of that "rotten borough" system which 
finally led to the abolition of the sectarian Irish Parlia- 
ment of after times. Scenes of great disorder occurred 
in this Parliament of 1613, chiefly occasioned by the in- 
tolerant, and even violent, proceedings of the anti-Catholic 
party, unreasonable bigots, having an eye to the main 
chance in the matter of confiscated property, to whom the 
presence of any "Papist" in that body was as gall and 
wormwood. This bitter prejudice led finally to the utter 
exclusion of all Catholics from the Anglo-Irish Parlia- 
ment, and even the few Catholic commoners previously 
entitled to a vote were deprived of that privilege, or 
rather right, until the last decade of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. Still, the Catholic minority in the Parliament of 
1613 succeeded in preventing ultra-tyrannical legisla- 
tion, and, really, made the first stand for the constitu- 


1 86 The People's History of Ireland 

tional rights of Ireland, from the colonial standpoint. 
It was finally adjourned in October, 1615, and no other 
Parliament was called to meet in Ireland until 1635, 
when Charles I had already been ten years on the throne. 
"Government," meanwhile, had been carried on arbi- 
trarily, without constitutional restraint of any kind, as 
under the Tudor sovereigns only with far less ability. 
The Tudors, at least particularly Henry and Elizabeth 
were intellectual tyrants, which their immediate suc- 
cessors were not. Never was so shameful a system of 
public spoliation carried out as in the reigns of James I, 
and his equally despotic, and still more unscrupulous, son 
Charles I. The viceroy was not responsible to any power 
whatever, except that of the English monarch. Chi- 
chester was succeeded by Lord Grandison, and under his 
regime the infamous "Commission for the Discovery 
of Defective Titles" was organized, of which the sur- 
veyor-general, Sir William Parsons, ancestor of the Earls 
of Rosse, was the head. This Commission, "aided 
by a horde of clerkly spies, employed under the name of 
Discoverers (McGee), ransacked Old Irish tenures in 
the archives of Dublin and London with such good effect, 
that in a very short time 66,000 acres in Wicklow and 
385,000 acres in Leitrim, Longford, the Meaths, and 
Kings and Queens Counties were 'found by inquisition 
to be vested in the crown.' The means employed by the 
Commissioners in some cases to elicit such evidence as 
they required were of the most revolting description. In 
the Wicklow case, courts-martial were held, before which 
unwilling witnesses were tried on charge of treason, and 
some actually put to death. Archer, one of the number, 
had his flesh burned with red-hot iron, and was placed 

The People's History of Ireland 187 

on a gridiron over a charcoal fire till he offered to testify 
anything that was necessary. Yet on evidence so ob- 
tained, whole counties and towns were declared for- 
feited to the crown." (Ibid.) Is it any wonder, there- 
fore, that a people so scourged, plundered, and degraded 
should cherish in their hearts fierce thoughts of reprisal 
when opportunity offered? These wholesale land rob- 
beries were not confined to the Celtic Irish alone, but 
were practiced on all Irishmen, of whatever descent, who 
professed the Catholic faith. Add to these the bitter 
memories of the murder and persecution of many bishops 
and innumerable priests and communicants of that faith, 
and the only wonder is that the Irish Catholic people of 
the seventeenth, and most of the succeeding, century, re- 
tained any of the milder and nobler characteristics of the 
human family. They were stripped of their property, 
education, civil rights, and, in short, of all that makes 
life worth living, including freedom of conscience that 
dearest privilege of a people naturally idealistic and de- 
votional. The idea of religious toleration never seems 
to have entered into the minds of what may be called 
the "professional Protestant" ascendency, except, as we 
have seen, for purposes of diplomacy which tended to 
weaken and divide Irish national opposition to foreign 
rule. In addition to the grievances we have enumerated, 
the office of Master of Wards was bestowed upon Sir 
William Parsons, and thus "the minor heirs of all the 
Catholic proprietors were placed, both as to person and 
property, at the absolute disposal of one of the most in- 
tense anti-Catholic bigots that ever appeared on the 
scene of Irish affairs." (McGee.) This was one of the 
pernicious influences that, not for conscience' sake, but 

1 88 The People's History of Ireland 

for sordid gain, changed the religion of so many of the 
ancient families of Ireland from the old to the new form 
of belief; and no English policy was more bitterly re- 
sented and vengefully remembered by the Irish Catholic 
masses. And because of this dishonest system of prosely- 
tizing, carried on by one process or another from the 
period of the Reformation to the reign of Victoria, the 
Irish Catholic peasant has associated "conversion" of 
any of his neighbors to the Protestant belief with per- 
sonal degradation. The Irish Catholic peasant has no 
feeling but that of utter contempt and aversion for a 
"turn-coat" Catholic; but he is most liberal in his feel- 
ings toward all Protestants "to the manor born," as has 
been frequently and emphatically manifested by his choice 
of Protestant leaders, from Grattan to Parnell. What- 
ever of religious bigotry may linger in the warm heart 
of the Catholic peasant may be justly charged to outrage- 
ous misgovernment, not to his natural disposition, which, 
in the main, is both loving and charitable. The faults 
we can trace in the Irish character to-day are partially 
those of human nature, which averages much the same 
in all civilized peoples, but many of them, and the grav- 
est, can be attributed, without undue prejudice, to the 
odious penal laws which were sufficient to distort the 
characteristics of angels, not to speak of mortal men. 

Charles I, of England, was a thorough Stuart in 
despotic character, wavering policy, base ingratitude, and 
fatuous obstinacy. His reign was to furnish to Ireland 
one of the most consummate tyrants and 'highway rob- 
bers that ever cursed a country with his cruelty and 
greed. This moral monster was the infamous Thomas 
Wentworth, Earl of Stratford, whose "tiger jaws" closed 

The People's History of Ireland 189 

on the unfortunate country with the grip of a dragon. 
This dishonorable "noble" counseled King Charles to 
commit an act of moral delinquency which, in our day, 
would be rightly, if coarsely, called "a confidence game." 
The Irish Catholics, in convention assembled, had drawn 
up a sort of Bill of Rights, which they urged the king 
to confirm, and agreed to pay into the royal treasury 
the sum of 100,000, which they could ill spare, to show 
their "loyalty," and also, no doubt, to influence Charles, 
who, like all of his family, dearly loved money, to grant 
"the graces" prayed for. Strafford advised the base king 
to take the money, but to manage matters so that the 
concessions he had solemnly promised should never go 
into effect! And the ignominious Stuart actually acted 
on the advice of this ignoble mentor. And so the poor 
Irish Catholic "gentry" lost both their money and their 
"concessions." When we read this chapter of Irish 
history, we are tempted to feel less sympathy for the 
fate of Charles I, who was afterward sold to Cromwell 
and the English Parliament by the Scottish mercenary 
army of General Leslie, with which the king had taken 
shelter, for back pay, amounting to 200,000 (see Sir 
Walter Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather"). This miserable 
monarch so far degraded himself, further, as to cause 
writs for the election of a Parliament to grant the Catholic 
claims issued in Ireland, but privately instructed Lord 
Falkland to have the documents informally prepared, so 
that the election might prove invalid; and, meanwhile, 
his Lords Justices went on confiscating Catholic prop- 
erty in Ireland and persecuting prelates, priests, and 
people almost as savagely as in the worst days of Mount- 
joy and Chichester. Strafford came to Ireland as Lord 

190 The People's History of Ireland 

Deputy in July, 1633, and entered at once on his "thor- 
ough" policy, as he called it; and, to prepare himself 
for the task he had set himself to perform, he through 
the "Lords Justices" extracted a "voluntary contribution" 
of 20,000 additional out of the terrorized Catholic 
"nobility and gentry" of the "sister" island, who, no 
doubt, wrung it, in turn, out of the sweat of the faces 
of their peasant retainers. But this was a mere bagatelle 
to what followed. He compelled Ireland to pay sub- 
sidies to the amount of 200,000 in 1634, and imposed 
100,000 more in the succeeding year. He carried the 
war of wholesale confiscation into Connaught, and com- 
pelled grand juries, specially "packed" for the work, to 
give the King of England title to the three great counties 
of Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon. The grand jury of 
Galway County refused to return such a verdict. They 
were summoned to the court of the Castle Chamber in 
Dublin, and sentenced to pay a fine of 4,000 each to 
the crown. The sheriff who empaneled them was fined 
1,000. (McGee.) The very lawyers who pleaded for 
the actual proprietors were stripped of their gowns ; "the 
sheriff died in prison and the work of spoliation pro- 
ceeded." (Ibid.} Similar, if not quite so general, rob- 
beries went on in Kildare, Kilkenny, Cork, and other 
counties. It must be said, however, that Strafford was, 
in a manner, impartial, and robbed, his master granting 
full approval, without distinction of creed. We can not 
help feeling thankful that the London companies which 
swallowed, in the reign of King James, the lands of 
Tyrone and Tyrconnel, were compelled by "Black 
Tom," as the earl was nicknamed, to pay 70,000 "for 
the use of the king." Out of all this plunder, and much 

The People's History of Ireland 191 

more beside, Strafford was enabled to maintain in Ire- 
land 10,000 infantry and 1,000 excellently equipped 
horse, "for the service of his royal master." When this 
great robber visited London in 1639, fresh from his 
crimes in Ireland, the king, on whom so much ill-de- 
served sympathy has been wasted, assured him, in per- 
son, that his actions in Ireland had his (Charles') "most 
cordial approval" (McGee), and even urged the earl to 
"proceed fearlessly in the same course." To still further 
mark his approbation of Stratford's policy, the king pro- 
moted him to the rank of Viceroy of Ireland. Strafford 
took the king at his word and did proceed so fearlessly 
in Ireland that his name of terror has been overshadowed 
in that country by only one other that of Oliver Crom- 
well. Every Parliament called to meet by the tyrant in 
the conquered country for so the earl regarded Ireland 
was used simply as an instrument wherewith to ex- 
tort still more tribute from the impoverished Irish peo- 
.ple. This terrible despot, having accomplished his deadly 
mission in Ireland, returned to England and there, as 
before, became chief adviser to the weak and wicked 
monarch. He counseled the latter to ignore, as far as 
he dared, the action of Parliament, and was imprudent 
enough to remark that he (Strafford) had an army in 
Ireland to support the royal will. He was, soon after- 
ward, impeached by the House of Commons, led by 
stern John Pym, for treasonable acts in seeking to change 
the constitutional form of the English Government. 
This method of procedure was abandoned, however, and 
Parliament passed a bill of attainder, to which the "false, 
fleeting, perjured" Charles, frightened by popular clamor, 
which accused himself of being implicated in a plot to 

192 The People's History of Ireland 

admit soldiers to the Tower for the rescue of Strafford, 
gave the "royal assent." The earl, on learning this, 
placed a hand upon his heart and exclaimed, "Put not 
your trust in Princes !" And thus the master he had but 
too faithfully served consigned Strafford to the block. 
He was beheaded on Tower Hill, May 12, 1641. When 
the hour of his similar doom approached, nearly eight 
years thereafter, Charles said that the only act of his 
reign he repented of was giving his assent to the bill 
which deprived his favorite minister of life. 

Some Irish historians, McGee of the number, claim 
that, outside of his land robberies and tributary exac- 
tions, the Earl of Strafford made an able ruler of Ire- 
land, and that trade and commerce flourished under his 
sway. While this may be, to a certain extent, true, 
nothing can palliate the crimes against justice and lib- 
erty of which he was guilty. He was only a degree less 
contemptible than the treacherous master who finally be- 
trayed and abandoned him. 


Irish Military Exiles Rory O'More Organizes a Great Insurrection 

SINCE Sir Cahir O'Doherty fell on the rock of Doon, 
in 1608, no Irish chief or clan had risen against the 
English interest throughout the length and breadth of 
the island. The masses of the Irish people had, appar- 
ently, sunk into a condition of political torpor, but the 
fires of former generations still smouldered amid the 
ashes of vanquished hopes, and needed but a breath of 
inspiration to fan them into fierce, rebellious flame. Most 
of the ancient Celtic and many of the Anglo-Norman, 

The People's History of Ireland 193 

families of Catholic persuasion had military represen- 
tatives in nearly all the camps of Europe. One Irish 
legion served in the army of Philip III of Spain, and was 
commanded successively by two of the sons of Hugh 
O'Neill, victor of the Yellow Ford Henry and John. In 
it also served the hero's gallant nephew, Owen Roe 
O'Neill, who rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and 
made a brilliant defence of Arras in France, besieged by 
Marshal de Meilleroye, in 1640. Of this able soldier we 
shall hear more in the future. The English Government 
never lost sight of those Irish exiles, and, about this time, 
one of its emissaries on the Continent reported that there 
were in the Spanish Netherlands alone "twenty Irish 
officers fit to be colonels and a hundred fit to be captains." 
The same agent reported, further, that the Irish military 
throughout Europe had long been procuring arms for an 
attempt upon Ireland, and had 6,000 stand laid up in 
Antwerp for that design, and that these had been bought 
out of the deduction of their "monthly pay." At the de- 
fence of Louvain against the French, the Irish legion, 
1,000 strong, commanded by Colonel Preston, of a dis- 
tinguished Anglo-Irish family, received honorable men- 
tion, and again at the capture of Breda. These are only 
a few of the stirring events abroad which raised the mar- 
tial reputation of the Irish people in the eyes of all Eu- 
rope, and the fame of those exploits, reaching Ireland 
by means of adventurous recruiting officers or courageous 
priests, who defied the penal laws and all their terrors, 
found a responsive echo in many a humble home, where 
the hope of one day throwing off the foreign yoke was 
fondly cherished. The exiled priesthood, many of whose 
members became prelates of high rank abroad, aided the 

194 The People's History of Ireland 

sentiment of the military at the Catholic courts, and thus 
was prepared the way for the breaking out of the great 
insurrection of 1641, which, but for the foolish over- 
confidence of an Irish chief and the dastardly treason 
of an obscure drunkard, might have been gloriously 

The moving spirit in the new project was Roger, or 
Rory O'More, of the ancient family of Leix, who had 
been educated in Spain and was, virtually, brought up at 
the Spanish court, in company with the sons of Hugh 
O'Neill, of Tyrone. O'More would seem to have been 
a born organizer, and a man of consummate tact and dis- 
cretion. It is a pity that but little is known of his early 
career, and, indeed, the precise time of his return to Ire- 
land remains an unsettled question, but it is certain that 
he returned quietly there, and took up his residence, with- 
out parade, on his estate of Ballynagh in Leinster. He 
never appeared in Dublin, or any other populous centre, 
unless on some public occasion, that would be sure to at- 
tract the attendance of the principal men of the country. 
Thus, during the Parliamentary session of 1640, we are 
told by McGee and other Irish annalists, he took lodg- 
ings in Dublin, and succeeded in drawing into his plan 
for a general insurrection, Connor McGuire, MacMahon, 
Philip O'Reilly, Turlough O'Neill, and other prominent 
gentlemen of Ulster. He made a habit, also, of visit- 
ing the different towns in which courts of assize were 
being held, and there becoming acquainted with influ- 
ential men, to whom, after due sounding, he outlined his 
plans for the final overthrow of the English government 
in Ireland, and the restoration to the Irish people of the 
lands and rights of which they had been robbed. On 

The People's History of Ireland 195 

one of these tours, we are told, he made the acquaintance 
of Sir Phelim O'Neill, of Kinnaird, in Tyrone head of 
the branch of that great family still tolerated by the as- 
cendency Sir Connor McGennis of Down, Colonel 
Hugh MacMahon of Monaghan, and the Right Rev. 
Heber MacMahon, Administrator of Clogher, by con- 
nivance or toleration, for, during the penal laws, there 
was no "legal" recognition of a Catholic prelacy, al- 
though, under Charles I, especially about this period, 
there was no very rigid enforcement of the Act of Uni- 
formity, probably because the king and government had 
enough trouble on their hands in vainly trying to force 
Protestant episcopacy on the Scotch covenanters. 

O'More did not confine his operations exclusively to 
Ulster. He also made a tour of Connaught, with his 
usual success; for he was a man of fine person, hand- 
some countenance, and courtly manners. Tradition still 
preserves his memory green among the Irish people of all 
classes. He was equally courteous to the lord and to 
the peasant. In the castles and mansions of the aristoc- 
racy he was ever the favored guest, and he charmejl all 
his entertainers with the brilliancy of his conversational 
powers and the versatility of his knowledge. Among 
the poor, he was looked upon as "some glorious guardian 
angel," who had come as a messenger from the God of 
Freedom to rid them of their galling chains. It is a 
singular fact that, although he must have taken thou- 
sands, high and low, into his confidence, not a man seems 
to have betrayed him to the Castle Government, which 
remained in profound ignorance of his plot until the very 
eve of insurrection. Robert Emmet, in after times, prac- 
ticed the methods of O'More, but with far less wisdom, 

196 The People's History of Ireland 

although influenced by the same lofty principles of pa- 

The records of the times in which he lived do not 
show that O'More went extensively into Munster, but 
he did excellent missionary work among the Anglo-Cath- 
olic nobles of his own native province of Leinster. He 
found them, as a majority, very lukewarm toward his 
project, influenced, no doubt, by fears of the consequences 
to themselves should the contemplated revolution prove 
abortive. Although not a trained soldier, O'More had 
keen military foresight. The army raised by Strafford 
in Ireland was mainly made up of Catholics for he does 
not seem to have discriminated very much in the matter 
of creed and these troops were, in consequence, regarded 
with distrust, and even intense hatred, by the people of 
England, to whom the very name of Catholic was, in 
those days, odious. The vacillating king, influenced by 
the prejudices of his English subjects, resolved to get rid 
of his Irish army, and gave such of the regiments as 
might so elect permission to enter the service of Spain. 
Some did volunteer, but O'More prevailed on many of 
the officers to keep their battalions together, and thus 
secured the nucleus of a well-trained military force at the 
very outset of hostilities. Among the influential Irish 
officers who acted on O'More's suggestion were Colonel 
Plunket, Colonel Sir James Dillon, Colonel Byrne, and 
Captain Fox. These, with O'More, constituted the first 
Directory of the Irish Confederates of Leinster. Mean- 
while active communication was kept up with their friends 
on the Continent, and emissaries were coming and going 
all the time between the two organizations. The head 
of the movement abroad appears to have been John 


The People's History of Ireland 197 

O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, who, however, died suddenly 
some writers aver by the hand of a poisoner early in 
1641 ; and the military exiles immediately transferred 
their allegiance to his cousin, Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill, 
with whom we have already made acquaintance. It was 
agreed among the allies that the uprising for Irish lib- 
erty should occur about the ist of November, and Oc- 
tober 23, 1641, was finally decided upon as the fateful 
day. The date was made known to only the most trusted 
chiefs of the projected insurrection. 

Everything appeared to prosper with the plans of the 
patriots until the actual eve of the rising. On that night 
(October 22), as fate would have it, there dined with 
Colonel Hugh MacMahon to whom was intrusted the 
command of 200 picked men who were to surprise the 
Castle several Irish officers concerned in the conspiracy. 
Among the guests was one Owen O' Connolly, an un- 
worthy creature for whom MacMahon would appear to 
have entertained an unaccountable friendship. Accord- 
ing to tradition, O'Connolly remained with Colonel Mac- 
Mahon after the other guests had gone to their several 
abodes, and, in a moment of inexcusable weakness, the 
unhappy host, who must have been rendered reckless 
by wine, confided to his traitor-guest the secret so mo- 
mentous to Ireland. O'Connolly was more than half 
intoxicated, but, unknown to MacMahon, he was in the 
service of a strong government supporter, named Sir 
John Clotworthy, and the danger which menaced his 
patron made the fellow sober enough to outwit his fool- 
ish informant. In order to divert suspicion, he pre- 
tended, after a time, that he wished to retire, and left 
his sword in MacMahon's room. He managed to reach 

198 The People's History of Ireland 

the rear door of the lodgings, and made his way over 
all kinds of obstacles, in the dark, to the castle, where, 
after much trouble, he succeeded in getting audience of 
Sir William Parsons, to whom he related what Colonel 
MacMahon had revealed to him. Parsons, observing 
that O'Connolly was still under the influence of strong 
drink, at first refused to believe him, and was on the 
point of turning him out of doors, when something in 
the rascal's earnestness made him pause and consider. 
As a result of his musing, he sent for his colleague, 
Sir John Borlaise, Master of the Ordnance; the latter 
immediately advised the summoning of the council. Sev- 
eral members of that body soon appeared, and the depo- 
sition of the informer was formally taken. A squad 
of soldiers surrounded MacMahon's lodgings and cap- 
tured him. Lord McGuire was also taken, but Colonels 
Plunket and O'Byrne, Rory O'Moore, and Captain Fox, 
who were also in the city, succeeded in making good 
their escape. MacMahon, on being arraigned before the 
Privy Council in the Castle, at daylight on the memorable 
23d, defiantly acknowledged his share in the plot, and 
declared that it was then too late for the power of man 
to prevent the revolution. He showed great courage, as 
did also his colleague, Lord McGuire, but MacMahon's 
bravery could have been much better spared than his dis- 
cretion, the want of which sent himself and his com- 
panion in misfortune to the scaffold, and, undoubtedly, 
lost to Ireland the best chance she had ever had of sev- 
ering the connection with Great Britain. This unhappy 
result teaches a harsh, but useful, political lesson : Never 
to confide a secret that concerns a great cause to a dubious 
"hanger-on," and to avoid the cup that inebriates when 

The People's History of Ireland 199 

one is the possessor of such a secret, or whether one is or 
not. O'Connolly's treachery was rewarded by a grant of 
lands from "the crown," and he was afterward a colonel 
in Cromwell's army. His ultimate fate is involved in 
obscurity. But his name is embalmed in the annals of 
enduring infamy. 

The Lords Justices of England, in Dublin, once made 
aware of the situation, lost no time in putting the Castle 
and city at large in a posture of defence. The guards 
were doubled and reinforcements were summoned, by 
special messengers, from neighboring garrisons. Two 
tried soldiers were invested with the military power 
Sir John Willoughby, who had been Governor of Gal- 
way, assumed command of the Castle; and Sir Charles 
Coote one of the blackest names in Irish annals was 
made military governor of the city. The Earl of Or- 
mond afterward Duke was summoned from Carrick- 
cn-Suir to assume chief command of the royal army. 
Thus, the Irish capital was again preserved, through folly 
and treason, to the English interest. 

MacMahon made no vain boast before the Privy Coun- 
cil, when he declared that the rising was beyond the 
power of man to prevent. Ulster did its full duty, and, 
on the morning of October 23, the forts of Mountjoy 
and Charlemont and the town and castle of Dungannon 
were in the hands of Sir Phelim O'Neill or his chief 
officers. Sir Connor MacGennis captured Newry; the 
MacMahons took Carrickmacross and Castleblaney, the 
O'Hanlon's, Tandragee, while O'Reilly and McGuire 
a relative of the lord of that name "raised" Cavan and 
Femanagh. (McGee.) Rory O'More supplemented a 
brief address of the northern chiefs, wherein they de- 

2oo The People's History of Ireland 

clared they bore no hostility to the king, or to his En- 
glish or Scotch subjects, "but only for the defence and 
liberty of themselves and the native Irish of the king- 
dom," with one more elaborate, in which he ably showed 
that a common danger threatened the Protestants of the 
Episcopal Church with Roman Catholics. In all the 
manifestos of the time, there was entirely too much 
profession of "loyalty" to a king who was constitution- 
ally incapacitated for keeping faith with any body of 
men whatsoever. Never was the adage that "Politics 
makes strange bedfellows" more forcibly illustrated than 
during this period of Irish history. The manliest of all 
the declarations issued was that of Sir Connor MacGen- 
nis, from "Newry's captured towers." "We are in 
arms," wrote he, "for our lives and liberties. We de- 
sire no blood to be shed, but if you (the English and 
their allies) mean to shed our blood, be sure we shall be 
as ready as you for that purpose." 


Horrors of Civil War in Ulster Battle of Kilrush Rory O'More 
Disappears from History 

AT first the civil war in Ulster for in the main it was 
the Old Irish against the Anglo-Irish' settlers of the 
Elizabethan regime, or their immediate descendants 
was carried on without ferocity, but the Scottish garrison 
of Carrickfergus, in the winter of 1641, raided Island Ma- 
gee, in the neighborhood, and put to the sword or drove 
over the cliffs, to perish in the breakers beneath them, 
or be dashed to pieces on the rocks, 3,000 of the Celtic- 
Catholic inhabitants, without regard to age or sex. Prot- 
estant historians claim that acts of cruelty had been com- 

The People's History of Ireland 201 

mitted on the Anglo-Irish settlers by the Celtic Irish be- 
fore this terrible massacre was accomplished. There may 
have been some isolated cases of murder and rapine for 
bad and cruel men are to be found in all armies but 
nothing that called for the wholesale slaughter at Island 
Magee by fanatical Scottish Covenanters, who made up 
a majority of the Carrickfergus garrison. Christians, not 
to mention Mohammedans and savage heathens, have 
shed oceans of blood in fierce persecution of each other, 
as if they were serving a furious devil, rather than a mer- 
ciful God. They forget, in their unreasoning hatred, that 
the gentle Messiah, whose teachings they profess to fol- 
low, never made the sword the ally of the Cross. The 
man made mad by religious bigotry is a wild beast, no 
matter what creed he may profess. Let us, as Americans, 
be thankful that we live under a government which rec- 
ognizes the equal rights of all the creeds, and permits 
every citizen to worship God in peace, after his own fash- 
ion. May the day never come when it shall be different 
in this Republic! 

The frightful event we have chronicled naturally 
aroused the worst passions of the angered Catholic popu- 
lation of Ulster, and some cruel reprisals resulted. We 
are sorry to be obliged to state that credible history 
ascribes most of the violence committed on the Irish side 
to Sir Phelim O'Neill ; but no charge of the kind is made 
against O'More, MacGennis, McGuire, Plunket, O'Byrne, 
or any of the other noted chiefs of the period. It is im- 
possible to arrive at any accurate statement of the number 
of those who perished on both sides, outside of the nu- 
merous battlefields of the long struggle; but it is certain 
they have been grossly exaggerated, particularly by En- 

2O2 The People's History of Ireland 

glish writers, who took for granted every wild statement 
made at the period. But, even granting that all the 
charges made were true, which, of course, we do not ad- 
mit, the fact would not stamp the charge of cruelty on the 
Irish nation. It was an age of cruelty the age of the 
Thirty Years' War in Germany, which gave to the world 
the horrors of the sack of Magdeburgh ; the age of the 
wars of the Fronde in France, and almost that of the 
Spanish atrocities in the Netherlands. And Cromwell 
was soon to appear upon the scene in Ireland, to leave 
behind him a name more terrible than that of Tilly in 
Germany or of Alva in the Low Countries. In fact, in 
the seventeenth century, Europe, from east to west, was 
just emerging from Middle-Age barbarism, and Ireland, 
most likely, was neither better nor worse than most of 
her sister states. We love and respect the Irish race, but 
we do not believe in painting it whiter than it is. The 
nation, plundered and outraged, was goaded to madness, 
and whatever crimes were committed under such circum- 
stances may well be attributed to the workings of tempo- 
rary insanity. It is, however, regrettable that around the 
history of the Irish insurrection of 1641 there should 
linger blood-red clouds, which even the lapse of two and 
a half centuries has not been able to dissipate. 

On the Anglo-Irish side of the conflict, the name of 
Sir Charles Coote stands out in bloody pre-eminence. 
Like Sir Phelim, he had the grand virtue of physical 
courage he feared nothing in mortal shape but in all 
else he was a demon-brute, and his memory is still exe- 
crated throughout the length and breadth of the land 
he scourged with scorpions. His soldiers are accused 
of having impaled Irish infants on their pikes their 

The People's History of Ireland 203 

mothers having been dishonored and butchered with- 
out rebuke from their inhuman commander. On the 
contrary, McGee, a very painstaking and impartial his- 
torian, quotes Sir Charles Coote as saying that "he 
liked such frolics." (McGee's "History of Ireland," 
Volume I, p. 502.) It is not unpleasant to note that, 
after a career of the most aggressive cruelty, he was 
finally killed by a musket-shot during a petty skirmish 
in the County Meath, and it is popular belief that the shot 
was fired by one of his own band of uniformed assassins. 

The war proceeded in a rather desultory manner, 
chiefly because of lack of skill in the Irish generals only 
a few of whom had seen service and the promised Irish 
military leaders had not yet sailed from the Continent. 
Sir Phelim O'Neill made an unsuccessful attack on Drog- 
heda, and was also repulsed at other fortified places, ow- 
ing to the lack of a suitable battering train. English re- 
inforcements kept pouring into Dublin by the shipload, 
until a fine army of not less than 25,000 men, with a 
numerous and well-served artillery, was in the field. The 
Irish army amounted, nominally, to 30,000 men, but only 
a third of it was armed and properly trained. 

The excesses of the English army in the peaceful An- 
glo-Catholic districts of Leinster aroused the resentment 
of the hitherto apathetic nobility and "gentry" of that 
fine province. They appointed Sir John Read to bear a 
protest to the king, but, while en route, he was arrested, 
confined in Dublin Castle and put to the rack by the Par- 
liamentary Government. Even this outrage did not drive 
the aristocrats of Leinster into immediate warfare. Other 
outrages followed in quick succession. Finally, Lord 
Gormanstown called a meeting of the Catholic peers and 

2O4 The People's History of Ireland 

gentlemen to assemble at the hill of Crofty, in the County 
Meath. They met there accordingly, headed by the 
caller of the gathering. Other distinguished Palesmen 
present were the Earl of Fingal, Lords Dunsany, Louth, 
Slane, Trimleston, and Netterville; Sir Christopher Bel- 
lew, Sir Patrick Barnewall, Nicholas Darcy, Gerald Ayl- 
mer, and many others. While these personages were still 
deliberating, they observed a group of horsemen, bearing 
arms, approaching at a rapid pace. They were attended 
by a guard of musketeers, and proved to be the insurgent 
chiefs of Roger O'More, Philip O'Reilly, Costello Mac- 
Mahon, Captains Byrne and Fox, and other leaders of 
the people. The party on the hill immediately galloped 
on horseback to meet them, and Lord Gormanstown, in 
loud and stern tones, asked : "Who are you, and why come 
you armed into the Pale ?" To this question O'More re- 
plied : "We represent the persecuted people of the Catholic 
faith, and we come here for the assertion of the liberty 
of conscience, the maintenance of the royal prerogative, 
which we understand to be abridged, and the making of 
the subjects in this Kingdom of Ireland as free as those 
of England." "Then," replied Gormanstown, "seeing 
that these be your true end and object, we will likewise 
join with you !" The leaders on both sides then joined 
hands, amid the applause of their followers. A more 
formal meeting was arranged for at the hill of Tara, and 
at that gathering, held the next month, the alliance was 
formally concluded. 

The faulty training of the Irish army was painfully il- 
lustrated soon afterward, when the forces of the newly 
made allies encountered those of Lord Ormond at a place 
called Kilrush, near the town of Athy, in Kildare, April 

The People's History of Ireland 205 

13, 1642. The numbers were about equal perhaps 
7,000 men each. The Irish were commanded by a brave 
but inexperienced officer, Lord Mountgarret, and with 
him were Lords Dunboyne and Ikerrin, Rory O'More, 
Colonel Hugh O'Byrne, and Sir Morgan Kavanagh. 
Mountgarret failed to occupy in time a difficult pass 
through which Ormond must march on his way to Dub- 
lin, and this failure compelled him to rearrange his plan 
of battle. Confusion as is always the case when this 
experiment is tried with raw soldiers resulted The 
Irish fought bravely for a time, but were soon outma- 
noeuvred and outflanked. The Anglo-Irish cavalry took 
them in reverse. Colonel Kavanagh, righting desper- 
ately at the head of his regiment, met a hero's death. 
His fall discouraged his troops, who broke and fled to a 
neighboring bog, whither the hostile cavalry could not 
safely pursue them. The other Irish troops, surrounded 
on all sides, made a rush for the morass also, broke 
through the enemy's ranks and joined their vanquished 
comrades. On the Irish side, 700 officers and men fell 
in this untoward affair. The loss of the Anglo-Irish 
was much smaller, and Ormond was enabled to proceed 
in a species of triumph to Dublin, where the news of 
his victory preceded his arrival. 

It is passing strange that, after the battle of Kilrush, 
the great organizer of the insurrection, Roger O'More, 
is heard of never more in his country's troubled annals. 
All accounts agree that, during the combat, he acted his 
part like a true soldier, but he failed to reappear in the 
Irish ranks during subsequent conflicts. His was cer- 
tainly a mysterious and unaccountable disappearance. 

The late Rev. C. P. Meehan, author of The Confed- 

206 The People's History of Ireland 

eration of Kilkenny," who gave more attention to that 
period of his country's story than any other writer, says, 
on page 26 of his interesting work : "After the battle of 
Kilrush, one bright name disappears [he mentions 
O'More in a foot-note] ; the last time the inspiriting 
war-shout of his followers fell on his ear was on that 
hillside. What reasons there may have been for the re- 
tirement of the gallant chief, whose name was linked with 
that of God and Our Lady, are not apparent ; but it is said, 
upon authority, that he proceeded to Ferns, and devoted 
the rest of his days to peaceful pursuits in the bosom of 
his family." The historian Coote says that he died at 
Kilkenny. This was, surely, a "lame and impotent con- 
clusion" to such a career. The defeat of his countrymen 
may have destroyed his hopes, or he may have had reason 
to doubt the loyalty of his allies of the Pale. We are 
inclined to believe an old Leinster tradition, which says 
that he died of a broken heart immediately after the lost 
battle, on which he had built such high hopes. Such a 
spirit as his could not have remained inactive during the 
nine long years of the struggle, inaugurated by himself, 
which followed the disaster at Kilrush. 

We can not dismiss this extraordinary man from our 
pages without quoting the following introduction to a 
ballad dealing with his career in Edward Hayes's re- 
markable collection of poetry, called "The Ballads of 
Ireland," vol. I, page 173 : 

"Roger, or Rory, O'More, is one of the most hon- 
ored and stainless names in Irish annals. Writers who 
concur in nothing else agree in representing him as a 
man of the loftiest motives and the most passionate pa- 
triotism. In 1640, when Ireland was weakened by defeat 

The People's History of Ireland 207 

and confiscation, and guarded with a jealous care, con- 
stantly increasing in strictness and severity, O'More, 
then a private gentleman with no resources beyond his 
intellect and courage, conceived the vast design of rescu- 
ing her from England, and accomplished it. In three 
years England did not retain a city in the island but 
Dublin and Drogheda. For eight years her power was 
merely nominal, the land was possessed and the supreme 
authority exercised by the Confederation created by 
O'More. History contains no stricter instance of the 
influence of an individual mind. Before the insur- 
rection broke out the people had learned to know and 
expect their Deliverer, and it became a popular proverb, 
and the burden of national songs, that the hope of Ire- 
land was in 'God, the Virgin, and Rory O'More.' It 
is remarkable that O'More, in whose courage and re- 
sources the great insurrection had its birth, was a descen- 
dant of the chieftains of Leix, massacred by English 
troops at Mullaghmast a century before. But if he took 
a great revenge, it was a magnanimous one. None of 
the excesses which stained the first rising in Ulster is 
charged upon him. On the contrary, when he joined the 
northern army, the excesses ceased, and strict discipline 
was established, as far as it was possible, among men 
unaccustomed to control, and wild with wrongs and suf- 
ferings." Says De Vere, in his sadly beautiful dirge, 
which assumes that the great leader died in 164.2, as the 
people of Leinster have been taught to believe 

" 'Twas no dream, Mother Land ! 'Twas no dream, Innisfail ! 
Hope dreams but grief dreams not the grief of the Gael! 
From Leix and Ikerrin to Donegal's shore, 

Rolls the dirge of thy last and thy bravest O'More!" 
Ireland 10 Vol. L 

ao8 The People's History of Ireland 


Proceedings of the Confederation of Kilkenny Arrival of Owen 
Roe O'Neill and Rinuccini 

OUT of the chaos of a popular uprising, and a num- 
ber of minor councils, which could decide only for 
localities, there sprang into existence the National Synod, 
composed of clerics and laymen of the Catholic persua- 
sion, because, at this period, few, if any of the Irish 
Protestants were in sympathy with the insurrection, or 
revolution, which is a more fitting term. The "oath 
of association" was formulated by the venerable Bishop 
Rothe, and, somewhat unnecessarily, seeing that the 
King of England was using all the forces at his disposal 
to crush "the rebellion," pledged true faith and allegiance 
to Charles I and his lawful successors. The fundamental 
laws of Ireland and the "free exercise of the Roman 
Catholic faith and religion" were to be maintained. Then 
came the second, and most important, part of the solemn 
and, as some thought, stringent obligation, which bound 
all Confederate Catholics never to accept or submit to 
any peace without the consent and approbation of their 
own general assembly. 

A constitution was framed which declared the war 
just and constitutional, condemned racial distinctions 
such as "New" and "Old" Irish, ordained an elective 
council for each of the four provinces, and a national 
council for the whole kingdom, condemned, as excom- 
municate, all who might violate the oath of association, 
or who should be guilty of murder, assault, cruelty, or 
plunder under cover of the war. 

The People's History of Ireland 209 

The bishops and priests, Very wisely, decided that a 
layman should be elected president of the National Coun- 
cil, and Lord Mountgarret was so chosen, with Richard 
Belling, lawyer and litterateur, as secretary. Both were 
men of moderate opinion and free from any taint of 

It was decided that the Supreme, or National, Council 
should hold its first session in the city of Kilkenny on 
October 23, 1642, the anniversary of the rising; and "the 
choice of such a date," says McGee, "by men of Mount- 
garret's and Belling's moderation and judgment, six 
months after the date of the alleged 'massacre,' would 
form another proof, if any were now needed, that none 
of the alleged atrocities (of 1641) were yet associated 
with that particular day." 

Between the adjournment of the National Synod, in 
May, and the meeting of the Council in October, many 
stirring events occurred. The confederate general in 
Munster, the aged Barry, made an unsuccessful attempt 
to capture Cork, but had better success at Limerick, which 
surrendered to the Irish army on June 21. Soon after- 
ward the Anglo-Irish leader, General St. Ledger, died at 
Cork, and the command devolved upon Murrough 
O'Brien, Baron of Inchiquin, who had been brought up 
from .an early age as one of Parsons' chancery wards, 
and had, therefore, become a Protestant. Furthermore, 
he had grown to be an anti-Irish Irishman of the black- 
est and bloodiest type. In Irish history, he is known as 
"Black Murrough the Burner," because the torch, under 
his brutal sway, kept steady company with the sword, 
and both were rarely idle. He served the king as long as 
the royal policy suited his views, but, when it did not, 

2iO The People's History of Ireland 

his services were at the disposal of the opposition. Mur- 
rough had served his military apprenticeship under Sir 
Charles Coote and was a past master in all the cruelties 
practiced by his infamous instructor. The curse of the 
renegade was strong upon him, for he hated his own kin 
more bitterly than if he were an alien and a Briton. Of 
the ancient royal houses of Ireland, those of MacMur- 
rough and O'Brien present the strongest contrasts of 
good and evil. 

The Irish forces succeeded in taking the castles of 
Loughgar and Askeaton, but Inchiquin inflicted a severe 
defeat upon them at Liscarroll, where the loss was nearly 
a thousand men on the side of Ireland, whereas the victor 
boasted that there fell only a score on his side. There 
were also some skirmishes in Connaught, where the pe- 
culiar inactivity of Lord Clanricarde produced discontent, 
and led to a popular outbreak in the town of Galway 
which General Willoughby speedily suppressed, with every 
circumstance of savage brutality. Affairs in Leinster 
continued rather tranquil. Ormond was raised by the 
king to the dignity of marquis, but does not seem to have 
been trusted by the Puritan Lords Justices, Parsons and 
Borlaise. The fall of the year was signalized, however, 
by the landing in Ireland of three able generals, all of 
whom fought on the national side Right Hon. James 
Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven, who had been imprisoned 
as a suspect in Dublin Castle, but managed to effect his 
escape; Colonel Thomas Preston, the heroic defender 
of Louvain, who debarked at Wexford, bringing with 
him 500 officers of experience, several siege guns, a few 
light field-pieces, and a limited quantity of small arms; 
and last, but most welcome to Ireland, arrived from Spain 

The People's History of Ireland 211 

Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill, who made a landing on the 
Donegal coast with 100 officers, a company of Irish vet- 
erans, and a quantity of muskets and ammunition. He 
immediately proceeded to the fort of Charlemont, held 
by his fierce kinsman, Sir Phelim O'Neill, who, with 
commendable patriotic self-sacrifice, resigned to him, un- 
solicited, the command of the Irish army of the North, 
and became, instead of generalissimo, "President of 

Simultaneously with the arrival of Owen Roe, General 
Lord Leven came into Ireland from Scotland with 10,000 
Puritan soldiers. He had met O'Neill in the foreign 
wars and expressed publicly his surprise that he should 
be "engaged in so bad a cause" to which Owen replied 
that he had a much better right to come to the rescue of 
Ireland, his native country, than Lord Leven had to 
march into England against his acknowledged monarch. 
Leven did not remain long in Ireland, and the command 
of his troops fell to General Monroe a brave but slow 
man, on whom the advice of his predecessor to act with 
vigor was thrown away. Monroe's dilatory tactics en- 
abled O'Neill, who had wonderful talent for military or- 
ganization, to recruit, drill, and equip a formidable force, 
mainly made up of the men of Tyrone and Donegal as 
fine a body of troops as Ireland had ever summoned to her 
defence. The valorous clansmen were speedily molded 
into a military machine by their redoubted chief, who 
set the example of activity to all of his command. 

When the Supreme Council of the Irish Confederation 
met in Kilkenny, according to agreement, one of its 
most important acts was- the appointing of generals to 
command in the several provinces. It named Owen 

212 The People's History of Ireland 

O'Neill commander-in chief in Ulster, General Sir 
Thomas Preston in Leinster, General Barry in Munster, 
and General Sir John Burke in Connaught. Fighting 
was resumed with vigor. Preston met with alternate 
successes and reverses in his province, but, on the whole, 
came out victorious. Barry and his lieutenants did bril- 
liant work in Munster, and routed both Vavassour and 
Inchiquin. O'Neill played a Fabian game in Ulster, 
training his army in partial engagements with the enemy 
and husbanding his resources for some great occasion, 
which, he saw, would surely come. But the brightest 
laurels of the campaign were gathered by General Sir 
John Burke, who, after other brilliant exploits, compelled 
General Willoughby to surrender the city of Galway to 
the Irish forces on June 20, 1643; and the national flag 
waved from the tower of its citadel until the last shot of 
the war was fired nine years thereafter. Clanricarde, 
who could have had the command-in-chief, paltered with 
time, and thus lost the opportunity of linking his name 
with a glorious exploit. 

All the Irish armies, and particularly that under 
O'Neill, occupied excellent strategic positions, and the 
hopes of the military chiefs and the nation rose high 
when, suddenly, there came a blight upon those hopes in 
the shape of a cessation of hostilities in other words, a 
prolonged armistice agreed to between the Anglo-Cath- 
olic majority in the National Council on the one side, 
and the Marquis of Ormond, representing the King of 
England, on the other. The Anglo-Catholics were again 
duped by pretences of liberality toward their religion, as 
their fathers had been in the days of Elizabeth; and this 
ill-considered truce wrested from Ireland all the advan- 

The People's History of Ireland 213 

tages won in the war which had already lasted two years 
by the ability of her generals and the courage of her 
troops. Vain was the protest of O'Neill, of Preston, of 
Burke, of Barry, of the Papal Nuncio, of the majority 
of the Irish nation. Charles was in straits in England, 
fighting the Parliamentary forces arrayed against his 
acts of despotism, and Ormond promised everything in 
order to end the war in Ireland, temporarily at least, and 
so be enabled to send needed succor to a sovereign whom 
he loved and served much better than he did God and 
country. With incredible fatuity, the Anglo-Catholic 
majority in the National Council listened to the voice of 
Ormond, and voted men and money to support the cause 
of the bad king who had let Strafford loose upon Ire- 
land ! We are glad to be able to say that the "Old Irish" 
element, represented by the brave and able O'Neill, was 
in nowise responsible for this act of weakness and folly. 
O'Neill saw into futurity, and frightful must have been 
that vision to the patriot-hero, for it included the horrors 
of Drogheda and Wexford, where the thirsty sword of 
Cromwell bitterly avenged on Ireland the foolish and 
fatal "truce of Castlemartin" ; another lesson to nations, 
if indeed another were needed, to avoid mixing up in 
the quarrels of their neighbors. Ireland invited ruin on 
that dark day when she voted to draw the sword for the 
ungrateful Charles Stuart against the Parliament of Eng- 
land. The temporary concession of Catholic privileges 
designed to be withdrawn when victory perched on the 
royal banner was poor compensation for the loss of 
advantages gained at the price of the blood of brave 
men, and the sowing of a wind of vengeance which pro- 
duced the Cromwellian whirlwind. If King Charles had 

214 The People's History of Ireland 

ever done a fair or manly act by Ireland even by the 
Anglo-Catholics of Ireland the folly of that country 
might be, in a measure, excusable, but his whole policy 
had been, on the contrary, cold-blooded, double-faced, 
and thoroughly ungrateful. In this instance, the Anglo- 
Irish Catholics brought all their subsequent misfortunes 
on themselves. As if to emphasize its imbecility, the 
National Council placed Lord Castlehaven, an English 
Catholic, in supreme command over O'Neill in Ulster. 
Owen Roe was, of course, disgusted, but was also too 
good a soldier and too zealous a patriot to resign his 
command and go back to Spain, as a man of less noble 
nature might have done. Meanwhile, Monroe and his 
army of 10,000 Lowland Scotch and Ulster "Undertak- 
ers" kept gathering like a thundercloud in the north. In 
Scotland a body of 3,000 Antrim Irish, under Alister 
MacDonald, called Cal-Kitto, or "the Left-handed," were 
covering themselves with glory, fighting under the great 
Marquis of Montrose in the unworthy royal cause. And 
we read that the Irish Confederate treasury, about this 
time, is somewhat replenished by funds sent from Spain 
and Rome. Even the great Cardinal Richelieu, of France, 
to show his sympathy with Ireland, invited Con, the last 
surviving son of the great O'Neill, to the French court, 
and permitted the shipment of much needed cannon to 
Ireland. But all of those good foreign friends of the 
Irish cause were sickened and discouraged by the mis- 
erable policy of armistice, so blindly consented to by the 
lukewarm "Marchmen of the Pale" who had assembled 
in Kilkenny. 

Many Irish Protestants, particularly the High ChurcH 
element, were ardent royalists and refused to take the 

The People's History of Ireland 215 

oath of the Covenanters prescribed in Ulster by General 
Monroe. They were driven with violence from their 
homes, and many fled for succor to their Catholic 
brethren, who treated them with hospitable considera- 
tion. In Munster, the ferocious Inchiquin, and still 
more savage Lord Broghill, son of Boyle, first Earl of 
Cork, foiled in their ambitious schemes by some royal 
refusal, broke out most violently, pretending the arm- 
istice was violated, and seized upon three leading South- 
ern towns Cork, Kinsale, and Youghal, where their ex- 
cesses were too horrible for narration murder and arson 
being among the lightest of their crimes. Ormond, in 
his peculiarly adroit way, succeeded in still further pro- 
longing the truce, and stated that he had power from 
the king to come to a permanent agreement with the 
Confederates. The cause of Ireland about this time lost 
a true and ardent friend and champion in the death of 
the good Pope Urban VIII, who was succeeded by Inno- 
cent X a Pontiff whose noble generosity is still grate- 
fully remembered by the Irish nation. It was to one of 
their worthy predecessors, in the time of the Elizabethan 
wars, O'Donnell's bard referred, when addressing Ire- 
land, in allegorical fashion, he sang : 

"O ! my dark Rosaleen ! 

Do not sigh, do not weep 
The priests are on the ocean green 

They march along the deep ! 
There's wine from the Royal Pope, 

Upon the ocean green, 
And Spanish ale to give you hope, 
My dark Rosaleen!" 

Nathless the truce, those two bad Irishmen, Inchiquin 
and Broghill, continued to do base work in the South, 

216 The People's History of Ireland 

where their cold-blooded atrocities struck terror into the 
wretched people of Munster. They even corrupted old 
Lord Esmond, commandant of Duncannon fort, which 
partly commanded the important harbor of Waterford 
from the Wexford side. Esmond was blind and almost 
senile, and, perhaps, too, was terrorized by the brutal 
threats of Inchiquin. But Lord Castlehaven and the 
Confederate Irish immediately laid siege to the place, 
and, after ten weeks of beleaguerment, succeeded in re- 
taking it. The traitorous commandant perished in the 
assault, and thus escaped an ignominious death, which 
his crime had richly merited. Several other Munster 
towns, held by Inchiquin and his officers, were success- 
si vely attacked and taken by the Confederates. In Con- 
naught, however, the latter met with serious reverses. 
The town of Sligo was captured by Sir Charles Coote, 
Jr. a worse scourge than even his infamous father 
and, in an attempt to recover it, several gallant Irishmen 
perished. Archbishop O'Healy, of Tuam,- fell into the 
hands of Coote and was barbarously tortured to death, 
Sunday, October 26, 1645. It must be remembered that 
these hostilities were the work of the Parliamentary 
forces, which were opposed by the "Old Irish" party. 
The royal troops had been sent to England to assist 
Charles, or else lay supine in their garrisons, as did 
also the Anglo-Irish, waiting for further developments. 
The king sent the Earl of Glamorgan, an English 
Catholic, who had intermarried with the O'Brien family, 
to Ireland to negotiate a new treaty with the Confed- 
erates. He succeeded in having a preliminary document 
drawn up, signed by himself for Charles, and by Lord 
Mountgarret and Muskerry on behalf of the Confed- 

The People's History of Ireland 217 

crates. Ormond, with his customary dilatoriness, hag- 
gled over the provisions regarding toleration of the Cath- 
olic Church in the kingdom, and thus frittered away much 
valuable time, which the Parliamentary forces made 
good use of. Ormond caused the treaty to be greatly 
modified, and while the negotiators were working on 
it at Kilkenny, there arrived in Ireland a new Papal 
Nuncio, in the person of the famous John Baptist Rinuc- 
cini, Archbishop of Ferns, and, afterward, Cardinal. He 
came to represent Pope Innocent X, who sent also sub- 
stantial aid. The Irish in exile and their friends sent, 
through Father Luke Wadding, a further contribution 
of $36,000. The Nuncio complained that he had been 
unreasonably detained in France it was greatly sus- 
pected by the intrigues of Cardinal Mazarin, who had 
succeeded Richelieu, Ireland's true friend. In spite of 
this trickery, however, he managed to purchase, with 
Pope Innocent's funds, a 26-gun frigate, which he called 
the San Pietro, 2,000 muskets, 2,000 cartridge boxes, 
4,000 swords, 2,000 pike-heads, 800 horse pistols, 20,000 
pounds of powder, and other much needed supplies. 
(McGee.) A ludicrous cause of one of his delays in 
France was the obstinacy of the wife of Charles I, Hen- 
rietta Maria, daughter of Henry of Navarre, who in- 
sisted that she would not receive the Papal Nuncio unless 
he uncovered in her presence. Rinuccini was proud and 
fiery, and, as representing the Pope, declined to remove 
his biretta, which so angered the queen that, after six 
weeks' parleying on this point of etiquette, the pair sep- 
arated without coming to an interview. Such is the 
farcical folly of "royal minds." 

2i 8 The People's History of Ireland 


Treason of Ormond to the Catholic Cause Owen Roe O'Neill, 
Aided by the Nuncio, Prepares to Fight 

Papal Nuncio, although only in the prime of life, 
I was in feeble health, and had to be borne on a litter 
by relays of able-bodied men, from his landing-place, at 
Kenmare in Kerry, to the city of Limerick, where he was 
received with all the ceremony due to his high rank, noble 
character, and chivalrous mission. From Limerick he 
proceeded by the same mode of conveyance to Kilkenny, 
the Confederate capital, where honors almost regal in 
their splendor awaited him. Lord Mountgarret, Presi- 
dent of the National Council a veteran soldier who had 
participated in the wars of Hugh O'Neill against Eliza- 
beth met the Papal dignitary, surrounded by a guard 
of honor, composed of the youthful chivalry of the Con- 
federation, in the picture gallery of the Castle of Kil- 
kenny the palatial residence of the Duke of Ormond, 
the most politic nobleman of the age. The so-called 
Glamorgan treaty proceeded smoothly enough until cer- 
tain demands of the exiled English Catholics, made 
through the Nuncio, were included in its provisions. 
Armed with the amended parchment, Glamorgan and the 
representatives of the Confederates returned to Dublin 
and laid the matter before Ormond. The latter acted in 
so strange a manner as to take the Confederate delegates 
completely by surprise. He had Glamorgan arrested 
while at dinner, on charge of having exceeded his instruc- 
tions, and threw him into prison. The Confederate en- 

The People's History of Ireland 219 

v jys were sent back to Kilkenny, charged to inform the 
P-esident and Council that the clauses concerning the 
English Catholics were inadmissible and never could be 
entertained by the English people who supported the 
cause of Charles. Lord Mountgarret and his associates 
broke off all negotiations with Ormond pending the re- 
lease of Glamorgan, which they firmly demanded. Or- 
mond required bail to the amount of 40,000, and the 
bond was furnished by the Earls of Kildare and Clan- 
ricarde. When Glamorgan was enlarged, he proceeded 
to Kilkenny, where, to the amazement of the Confed- 
erates and the Nuncio he defended, rather than censured, 
Ormond's course toward himself. On which McGee 
grimly remarks: "To most observers it appeared that 
these noblemen understood each other only too well." 

Frequent bickerings occurred at Kilkenny between 
Mountgarret's followers, or the Anglo-Irish, and the 
Nuncio's followers, the "Old Irish," who were in the mi- 
nority. Rinuccini's heart was with the latter, for, by 
instinct as well as observation, he recognized that they 
were the only real national party among the Irish fac- 
tions. The rest he put down, with good reason, as time- 
servers and provincialists ever ready to go back to their 
gilded cages the moment the English power filled their 
cups with Catholic concessions. With a little more 
knowledge of Ireland and her people; the Nuncio would 
have been a marvelous leader. As it was, he did the very 
best he could for Ireland according to his lights and 
he was one of the very few foreigners who, on coming 
in close contact with the situation remained true to the 
Irish cause through good and evil report. He was, of 
course, a devoted Catholic, but in no sense a bigot. Irish- 

22,o The People's History of Ireland 

men should always hold his name in high honor. Any 
mistakes the Nuncio committed were due to lack of fa- 
miliarity with surrounding conditions, very excusable in 
an alien. 

But the Glamorgan treaty would appear to have been 
taken up at Rome, where Sir Kenelm Digby and the 
pontifical ministers concluded a truce favorable to the in- 
terests of both Irish and English Catholics. The king 
needed the 10,000 Irish troops which he knew the Con- 
federates could place at his disposal. In March, 1646, a 
modified Glamorgan treaty was finally signed by Ormond 
for King Charles, and by Lord Muskerry and other Con- 
federate leaders for their party. "These thirty articles," 
comments McGee, "conceded, in fact, all the most essen- 
tial claims of the Irish ; they secured them equal rights as 
to property, the army, the universities, and the bar. They 
gave them seats in both Houses and on the bench. They 
authorized a special commission of Oyer and Terminer, 
composed wholly of Confederates. They declared that 
'the independency of the Parliament of Ireland on that 
of England' should be decided by declaration of both 
Houses, agreeably to the laws of the Kingdom of Ire- 
land. In short, the final form of Glamorgan's treaty 
gave the Irish Catholics, in 1646, all that was subse- 
quently obtained, either for the Church or the country, 
in 1782, 1793, and 1829. Though some conditions were 
omitted, to which the Nuncio and a majority of the 
prelates attached importance, Glamorgan's treaty was, 
upon the whole, a charter upon which a free church and 
a free people might well have stood, as the fundamental 
law of their religious and civil liberties." 

These concessions proved to be a new "delusion, mock- 

The People's History of Ireland 221 

ery, and snare." Ormond tricked the Confederates, and 
the poltroon king, just before his fatal flight to the camp 
of the mercenary Scots' army of General Lord Leven, 
which promptly sold him to the English Parliament, for 
the amount of its back pay, disclaimed the Glamorgan 
treaty in toto a policy entirely in keeping with his un- 
manly, vacillating nature. 

Owen Roe O'Neill, notwithstanding many and griev- 
ous vexations, chiefly arising from the absurd jealousy 
of General Preston, had his army well in hand on the 
borders of Leinster and Ulster, prepared to strike a blow 
at the enemy wherever it might be most needed. He was 
in free communication with the Nuncio, who, according 
to all the historians of the period, supplied him with the 
necessary means for making an aggressive movement. 
The Anglo-Scotch army of General Monroe presented 
the fairest mark for O'Neill's prowess, and against that 
force his movements were, accordingly, directed. 


The Famous Irish Victory of Benburb Cruel Murder of the Cath- 
olic Bishop of Ross 

THE forces of the belligerents were not large, accord- 
ing to our more modern standards. In his compre- 
hensive "History of Ireland," the Rev. Abbe McGeo- 
ghegan credits Owen Roe with only 5,000 infantry and 
500 horse, while he calls Monroe's force 6,000 foot and 
800 cavalry. The objective of both generals was the 
ancient city of Armagh, and the grand-nephew of the 
great Hugh O'Neill was destined to win one of Ireland's 
proudest victories in the immediate neighborhood of his 

222 The People s History of Ireland 

grand-uncle's most famous battlefield the Yellow Ford. 
Marching northward from the borders of Leinster, Owen 
Roe crossed the historic Blackwater and took position at 
a place called Benburb, in the present county of Tyrone. 
Monroe advanced to attack him, and ordered his younger 
brother, George Monroe, who commanded a strong de- 
tachment, to join forces with the main body without de- 
lay. O'Neill, apprised by his scouts of this movement, 
sent two regiments, under Colonels MacMahon and Mac- 
Nenay, to intercept young Monroe at a pass through 
which he would be compelled to defile his troops in order 
to form a junction with his brother. The two colonels 
obeyed their orders so strictly that George Monroe's force 
was so utterly broken and routed that it was unable to 
render any service to the Puritan general during the re- 
mainder of the campaign. The victors immediately re- 
joined O'Neill, who, in the interim, had detached Colonel 
Ricard O'Ferrall to obstruct the elder Monroe's march 
from Kinaird to Caledon, where he had crossed the Black- 
water. The Scotchman's cannon proved too much for 
O'Ferrall, who could only reply with musketry, but he 
retired in admirable order, although closely pressed by 
Monroe's stronger vanguard. The battle of Benburb be- 
gan on the morning of June i6th, new style, 1646. 
O'Neill's post was near the river, his flanks protected by 
two small hills, and his rear by a wood all held by chosen 
troops. Throughout most of the day, the Scots, who 
had both sun and wind at their backs, seemed to have the 
advantage, in so far as partial demonstrations could de- 
termine the question. O'Neill, in expectation of a rein- 
forcement from the direction of Coleraine, "amused" the 
Scotch general until the sun had shifted position and no 

The People's History of Ireland 223 

longer shone full and dazzlingly in the faces of the Irish 
soldiers. Almost at this propitious moment, the expected 
auxiliary force reached the field, and took up position in 
O'Neill's line of battle. Rev. C. P. Meehan, historian of 
the "Confederation of Kilkenny," who quotes Monroe's 
despatch, Rinuccini's letters, and other contemporaneous 
authorities, says : "It was the decisive moment. The 
Irish general, throwing himself into the midst of his men, 
and, pointing out to them that retreat must be fatal to 
the enemy, ordered them to charge and pursue vigor- 
ously. A far resounding cheer rose from the Irish 
ranks. 'Myself,' said he, 'with the aid of Heaven, 
will lead the way. Let those who fail to follow me re- 
member that they abandon their general.' This address 
was received with one unanimous shout by the army. 
The Irish colonels threw themselves from their horses, to 
cut themselves off from every chance of retreat, and 
charged with incredible impetuosity." Some musketry 
was used, but the victory was decided in Ireland's favor 
by her ancient and favorite weapon, the deadly pike, 
which may be called the parent of the bayonet. Mon- 
roe's cavalry charged boldly that bristling front of spears, 
but was overthrown in an instant and all but annihilated. 
Vain, then, became the fire of the vaunted cannon of the 
Scotch commander and the crashing volleys of his small 
arms. Vainly he himself and his chosen officers, sword 
in hand, set an example of courage to their men. With 
the shout of "Lamh Dearg Aboo !" which, fifty years be- 
fore, had sounded the death-knell of Bagnal, Kildare, 
and De Burgh, on the banks of the same historic river, 
the Irish clansmen rushed upon their foes. The strug- 
gle was brief and bitter. Lord Blaney's English regi- 

224 The People's History of Ireland 

ment perished almost to the last man, fighting heroically 
to the end. The Scottish cavalry was utterly broken and 
fled pell-mell, leaving the infantry to their fate. 'Lord 
Montgomery's regiment alone retired in good order, al- 
though with considerable loss, but Montgomery himself, 
fifty other officers, and some two hundred soldiers, were 
made prisoners. Monroe fled, without hat or wig, and 
tradition says he lost his sword in swimming his horse 
across the Blackwater. Of the Anglo-Scotch army, there 
died upon the field 3,243 officers and men, and many 
more perished during the vengeful pursuit of the victors, 
who do not appear to have been in a forgiving mood. 
O'Neill acknowledged a loss of seventy men killed and 
several hundred wounded. The Scottish army lost all 
of its baggage, tents, cannon, small arms, military chest, 
and, besides, thirty-two stand of battle-flags. Fifteen 
hundred draught horses and enough food supplies to last 
the Irish army for many months also fell into the hands 
of the vanquishers. Monroe's army was, virtually, de- 
stroyed, and he sullied a previously honorable record by 
plundering and burning many villages and isolated houses 
to gratify his spite against the people whose soldiers had 
so grievously humiliated him. 

O'Neill's fine military instinct impelled him to follow 
up his success by giving Monroe no rest until he had 
driven him from Ulster, but, unfortunately, there came 
at this crisis a request, which really meant an order, from 
the Nuncio, to march the Ulster army into Leinster in 
order that it might support those who were opposed in 
the Council at Kilkenny to entering into further peace 
negotiations with the bigoted Ormond and the now im- 
potent king. O'Neill could hardly decline this misdi- 

The People's History of Ireland 225 

reeled mission, but it proved to be, in the end, a fatal 
act of obedience. From that hour the Irish cause began 
to decline. General Preston, O'Neill's fierce Anglo-Irish 
rival, and fanatically devoted to the cause of Charles, en- 
gaged in battle with the Parliamentary general, Michael 
Jones, at Dungan Hill in Meath, and was totally routed, 
with immense loss. It is only proper to remark here, 
that the "Old" Irish did the best fighting during this war, 
because their hearts were in the struggle, while the 
Anglo-Irish, who mainly composed the armies under 
Preston and Lord Taaffe the latter of whom was igno- 
miniously defeated at Knockinoss, near Mallow in Cork 
were only half-hearted in their efforts. Taaffe's de- 
feat was aggravated by the cruel murder of the brave 
"Left-handed" MacDonnell of Antrim, who, after having 
been made prisoner, was barbarously put to death by 
order of the murderous renegade, "Murrough the 
Burner," who commanded the victors. This bloody- 
minded wretch further signalized his cruelty by storming 
the city of Cashel and sacking the grand cathedral, 
founded by one of his own princely ancestors, in the 
twelfth century. Hundreds of non-combatants of all ages 
and both sexes, who had taken refuge in the holy place, 
were ruthlessly massacred, and twenty priests were 
dragged from under the high altar and wantonly butch- 
ered. Lord Broghill emphasized his brutality in Cork 
County by hanging before the walls of Macroom Castle 
the saintly Bishop MacEagan of Ross, who refused to 
counsel the Irish garrison to surrender. Dr. Madden, a 
gifted poet, summed up the noble refusal and its tragical 
consequences in the following lines : 

226 The People's History of Ireland 

"The orders are given, the prisoner is led 

To the castle, and round him are menacing hordes : 
Undaunted, approaching the walls, at the head 
Of the troopers of Cromwell, he utters these words: 

" 'Beware of the cockatrice trust not the wiles 

Of the serpent, for perfidy skulks in its folds ! 

Beware of Lord Broghill the day that he smiles! 

His mercy is murder ! his word never holds ! 

" 'Remember, 'tis writ in our annals of blood, 
Our countrymen never relied on the faith 
Of truce, or of treaty, but treason ensued 
And the issue of every delusion was death!' 

*He died on the scaffold in front of those walls, 
Where the blackness of ruin is seen from afar, 

And the gloom of their desolate aspect recalls 
The blackest of Broghill's achievements in war." 


Ormond's Treacherous -Surrender of Dublin Ireland's Choice of 

Two Evils 

ORMOND would seem to have been the evil genius 
of the Irish nation at this period of its history. 
He was suspected by the Confederates and distrusted by 
the Parliamentarians. The former, convinced that he 
meant to betray Dublin, which was poorly fortified, to 
the latter, ordered O'Neill and Preston to unite their 
forces and take it from Ormond. Preston, who was, to 
all appearance, more of a royalist Palesman than an 
Irishman, threw obstacles in the way of the intended 
assault, and proposed to parley with Ormond before 
assuming the aggressive. Owing to this dilatoriness, 
and because of a false alarm, the combined Irish forces 
retired from before the city without accomplishing any- 

The People's History of Ireland 227 

thing. There was mutual distrust between the unwilling 
allies, and, as usual, Ireland was the sufferer. Preston's 
jealousy of O'Neill amounted to a frenzy, and, before 
an accommodation could be arrived at, Ormond surren- 
dered the city to the Parliamentary forces, under Gen- 
eral Jones, and fled to France, where, unaccountably, 
considering his suspicious conduct, he was favorably re- 
ceived. After a year's absence, he returned to Ireland, 
and, finding the royal cause desperate, concluded a peace 
between the king's supporters, the Confederates, and the 
National party, headed by Owen O'Neill. This treaty was, 
virtually, a revival of that submitted by Glamorgan, and 
fully recognized, when all too late, the justice of the 
Catholic claims to liberty of conscience. Had the original 
instrument been adopted, Charles could have held Ireland 
against the Parliament. But his days were now num- 
bered, and he died on the scaffold, in front of his own 
palace of Whitehall, on January 30, 1649. 

The Royalist party at once recognized his heir as 
Charles II. They were reinforced by many Parliamenta- 
rian Protestants who were shocked and horrified by the 
decapitation of the king; and so Old Irish and New 
Irish, Confederates and Ormondists, made common cause 
against the Parliament, which was defended in Dublin by 
the redoubtable General Jones, and in Derry by the fero- 
cious younger Coote. Even the sanguinary Inchiquiri again 
became a Royalist and captured several towns of strength 
and importance from his recent allies. Ormond massed 
his army and, aided by Major-General Purcell, made an 
attempt to storm Dublin. But Michael Jones made a 
night sortie from the city and scattered Ormond and 
Purcell and their followers to the winds of heaven. The 

228 The People's History of Ireland 

Irish generals mutually blamed each other and there was 
much bitter crimination and recrimination, but all this 
could not remedy the disaster that incapacity and over- 
confidence had brought about. Owen O'Neill kept his 
army, which fronted Coote, near Derry, intact, but lost 
his best friend when the impetuous Nuncio, who had 
spared neither denunciation nor excommunication in deal- 
ing with the trimming Anglo-Catholic leaders, disgusted 
with the whole wretched business, suddenly departed for 
the port of Galway and sailed in his own ship for Rome. 
Had this good man had to deal with leaders like Owen 
O'Neill, faithful, sensible, and unselfish, Ireland would 
have been an independent nation ere he returned to the 
Eternal City. His retirement placed O'Neill and the 
"Old Irish" in great perplexity as regarded a military 
policy. Ormond, the treacherous, was, nominally at 
least, commander-in-chief of the royal army, and his 
trusted lieutenants, Preston and Inchiquin, were O'Neill's 
bitter foes. 

Under such disadvantages, we are not surprised to 
learn that O'Neill adopted a policy of his own, at once 
bold and original. He temporized with the Parliamen- 
tarians, and actually entered into a three months' truce 
with General George Monck, who had succeeded to the 
unlucky Monroe's command in the North. The dis- 
trust and hatred of Ormond, whose military power 
waned immediately after his crushing defeat by Gen- 
eral Jones, already mentioned, were so great that both 
Galway and Limerick refused to admit his garrisons. 
He and his wretched ally, Inchiquin, became utterly 
discredited with the Old Irish party, and soon fled 
the kingdom their infamies had cursed. Ormond re- 

The People's History of Ireland 229 

turned to England after the Restoration and was one of 
Charles II's intimates. It can hardly be wondered at, 
therefore, that, to use McGee's language, "the singular 
spectacle was exhibited of Monck forwarding supplies 
to O'Neill to be used against Ormond and Inchiquin, 
and O'Neill coming to the rescue of Coote and raising 
for him the siege of Derry." It was unfortunate that 
all of the Parliamentary generals were not possessed of 
the chivalric qualities of Monck and that hard fortune 
again compelled Owen Roe to draw the sword for the 
cause of the ingrate Stuarts. As for the Anglo-Irish, 
whether of the Church of Rome or the Church of Eng- 
land, they clung to the fortunes, or rather the misfor- 
tunes, of Charles II as faithfully and vehemently as to 
those of his infatuated father. This was all the more 
noteworthy, as the younger Charles had even less to 
recommend him to public estimation than his sire. He 
lived to be a disgrace to even the throne of England, 
which has been filled too often by monarchs of degraded 
and dissolute character. The second Charles of England 
was destitute of every virtue, except physical courage. 
He had, in a high degree, that superficial good nature 
which distinguished his race, but he was a libertine, an 
ingrate, and a despicable time-server. But Ireland did 
not learn these truths about his character until long after 
the period of his checkered career here dealt with. It 
must be borne in mind, however, that in the middle of 
the seventeenth century the divinity which is alleged to 
hedge a king was much more apparent to the masses of 
the people than it is in our own generation, when the 
microscopic eye of an educated public opinion is turned 
upon the throne and detects the slightest flaw, in the 

230 The People's History of Ireland 

"fierce light" which beats upon it. The Old Irish party 
cared little for Charles, but when it came to a choice 
between him and Cromwell, there was nothing left them 
but to throw their swords into the scale for the youthful 
monarch, who was not nearly as "merry" then as he 
became in after days, when he quite forgot the friends 
of his adversity. 


"The Curse of Cromwell" Massacres of Drogheda and Wexford 
Death of Sir Phelim O'Neill 

THEIR adherence to the cause of the young Stuart 
brought upon the Irish nation the blighting "curse 
of Cromwell," so terribly remembered down to the pres- 
ent hour in every nook of Ireland visited by his formi- 
dable and remorseless legions. The English Parliament 
well knew that a general of the first class was needed to 
crush the Irish army in field and fort, and so Oliver 
Cromwell, commander of the famous "Ironsides," or 
Parliamentary cuirassiers, the greatest and most relent- 
less soldier of that age, was sent to Ireland, commissioned 
to work his will upon her. He landed in Dublin with an 
army of 4,000 cavalry and 9,000 infantry, augmented by 
the forces already in the island, on August 14, 1649. 
Plentifully supplied with money and military stores, he 
at once made ready for a vigorous campaign. His sec- 
ond in command was General Ireton, a son-in-law and 
pupil, who is remembered in Ireland only a degree less 
bitterly than the great regicide himself. The latter 
marched his formidable army, after a very brief rest, 
from Dublin to Drogheda, which was held for Charles 
II by a garrison of about 3,000 men, burdened with many 

The People's History of Ireland 231 

helpless non-combatants, under the orders of Sir Arthur 
Aston, a brave and experienced officer, who had suffered 
the loss of a leg in the Continental wars. He spurned 
Cromwell's insolent summons to surrender, and success- 
fully repulsed two furious assaults, led by the English 
general in person. A third attack, made September 10, 
1649, was successful. General Aston fell, and the Puri- 
tan soldiers quarreled over his artificial leg, which was 
said to be made of gold. Examination proved it to be 
of wood a much less costly and tempting material. The 
garrison, seeing their leader fall, laid down their arms, 
believing that quarter would be extended. But Crom- 
well, by his own admission (see his letters compiled by 
Thomas Carlyle), refused this accommodation, on the 
flimsy pretext that Drogheda did not, at once, surrender 
on summons; and the Puritan army was let loose upon 
the doomed city. For five dreadful days and nights 
there ensued a carnival of rapine and slaughter. The 
affrighted people fled to cellars, many sought refuge in 
churches, and some climbed even to the belfries in the 
vain hope of escaping the general massacre. But they 
were relentlessly pursued, sabred, suffocated, or burned 
to death in the places in which they hoped to obtain shel- 
ter. The few miserable survivors less than one hun- 
dred were spared, only to be shipped as slaves to the 
Barbadoes. (See Cromwell's Letters, per Carlyle.) 
Cromwell, in his despatch to the speaker of the English 
Parliament, called this brutal achievement "an exceed- 
ing great mercy," and, blasphemously, gave all the praise 
of the universal slaughter to the most High God ! There 
is absolutely no excuse for the regicide's outrageous con- 
duct at Drogheda, although Froude, Carlyle, and other 

Ireland n Vol. U 

232 The People's History of Ireland 

British historians have vainly sought to make apology 
for his inhuman actions. Many of the garrison were 
English and Protestant, so that race and creed did not 
entirely influence him, as the same considerations un- 
doubtedly did at other places in Ireland. His cold- 
blooded idea was to "strike terror" into Ireland at the 
outset of the campaign; and in this he certainly suc- 
ceeded only too well. It made his subsequent task of 
subjugation much easier than it would, otherwise, have 
been. Having accomplished his work in the fated city, 
and left it a smoking ruin, he counter-marched to Dublin, 
rested there for some days, and then marched toward 
Wexford, capturing several small towns, which offered 
but feeble resistance, on his way. His lieutenants had, 
meanwhile, added Dundalk, Carlingford, and Newry to 
his conquests in the North. Wexford prepared for a 
brave defence, but was basely betrayed by Captain James 
Stafford, an officer of English ancestry, who surrendered 
the outer defences, without the knowledge of his chief, 
Colonel David Sennott. Quarter was refused, as at 
Drogheda, and three hundred maids and matrons, many 
of the latter with infants in their arms, who fled to the 
market square, and took refuge, as they thought, under 
the sacred shadow of the gigantic cross which stood 
there, were butchered, notwithstanding their pleadings 
for mercy. Nearly all of these people were Catholic in 
creed, if not all of Celtic race, so that Cromwell mani- 
fested what may be called an impartial spirit of cruelty 
on both bloody occasions. His hatred for the English 
Protestant royalists was as hot, to all appearance, as that 
which he entertained toward the Irish Catholics, who had 
embraced the Stuart cause. But his remorseless policy 

The People's History of Ireland 233 

of general confiscation of the lands of the vanquished, 
and the sending into banishment, as veritable slaves, of 
the unhappy survivors, have left a deeper scar on the 
heart of Ireland than all the blood he so cruelly, and need- 
lessly, shed on her soil. 

The tidings from Drogheda and Wexford soon spread 
throughout the country, and the faint-hearted governors 
of many strong towns surrendered without attempting 
to make an honorable defence. Kilkenny proved an ex- 
ception. There a brave stand was made, and garrison 
and inhabitants received favorable terms of surrender. 
But Cromwell's most difficult task was in front of "rare 
Clonmel," in Tipperary, which was garrisoned by a few 
regiments of the aboriginal Ulster Irish among the brav- 
est men that ever trod a battlefield or manned a breach 
under the command of Major-General Hugh Duff( Black) 
O'Neill, nephew and pupil of the glorious Owen Roe. 
This brave and skilful officer repulsed, with much car- 
nage, several of Cromwell's fiercest assaults, and the siege 
would, undoubtedly, been raised only for failure of 
ammunition in the Irish army. O'Neill, having satisfied 
himself that this was the unfortunate fact, evacuated the 
city on a dark midnight of May, 1649, an d retreated to 
Limerick. Cromwell, ignorant of this movement, de- 
manded the surrender of Clonmel next morning. Favor- 
able terms were requested and granted. There was no 
massacre, and Cromwell's sardonic nature made him 
rather enjoy the masterly trick played upon him by young 
O'Neill. Some years afterward, when the latter, after 
a most noble defence of Limerick, fell into the hands of 
Ireton and was condemned to death, we are informed 
that Cromwell, then virtually Lord Protector, caused his 

134 The People's History of Ireland 

sentence to be commuted and allowed him to return to 
the Continent. Such is the effect true courage produces 
on even the most brutal natures. 

Owen Roe O'Neill, who, of all the Irish generals, was 
alone fitted, both by nature and experience, to combat 
the able Cromwell, died soon after that tyrant's arrival 
in Ireland, as some say by poison. He was on the march 
to attack the English army, when he surrendered to death 
at Clough Oughter Castle, in Cavan, bitterly mourned by 
all who had dreamed of an independent Ireland. How 
beautifully Thomas Davis laments him : 

"We thought you would not die we were sure you would not go, 
And leave us in our utmost need to Cromwell's cruel blow! 
Sheep without a shepherd, when the snow shots out the sky, 
Oh, why did you leave us, Owen, why did you die? 

"Soft as woman's was your voice, O'Neill ! bright was your eye, 
O! why did you leave us, Owen? why did you die? 
Your troubles are all over, you're at rest with God on high; 
But we're slaves and we're orphans, Owen! why did you die?" 

Immediately after the capitulation of Clonmel, Crom- 
well, summoned by Parliament to operate against the 
royalists of Scotland, set sail for England, leaving behind 
him Ireton and Ludlow to continue his bloody work. By 
Oliver's direction, confiscation followed confiscation, and, 
when he became Protector of the English Commonwealth, 
many thousands of innocent boys and girls were shipped 
from Ireland to the West Indies and other colonies of 
England, where most of them perished miserably. Ire- 
ton died in Limerick, which yielded to his arms, after a 
desperate resistance, in 1651. Tradition says that he 
rotted from the plague, and that his last hours were hor- 
rible to himself and to all who surrounded his repulsive 
deathbed. He had caused to be killed in the city a 

The People's History of Ireland 235 

bishop, many priests, and a multitude of other non-com- 
batants; and these atrocities appalled his craven soul at 
the moment of dissolution. Ludlow, an equally fero- 
cious soldier, concluded the work of conquest in Ireland, 
and, in 1652, the whole island was again rendered "tran- 
quil." "Order reigned in Warsaw," but it was not the 
order that succeeds dissolution. Ireland, as subsequent 
events proved, was not dead, but sleeping. The close of 
"the great rebellion," which had lasted eleven years, was 
signalized by the ruthless executions of Bishop Heber 
MacMahon the warrior prelate who led Owen Roe's 
army after that hero's death and Sir Phelim O'Neill, 
who was offered his life on the steps of the scaffold, if 
he consented to implicate the late King Charles I in the 
promotion of the Irish revolt. This, the English his- 
torians inform us, he "stoutly refused to do," and died, 
in consequence, like a soldier and a gentleman. He had 
his faults this fierce Sir Phelim. He was by no means 
a saint, or even an exemplary Christian but he acted, 
"according to his lights," for the best interests of his 
native country, and lost everything, including life, in 
striving to make her free. A gifted Irish poet (T. D. 
McGee) sings of him as "In Felix Felix," thus : 

"He rose the first he looms the morning star 
Of that long, glorious unsuccessful war; 
England abhors him ! has she not abhorr'd 
All who for Ireland ventured life or word? 
What memory would she not have cast away 
That Ireland keeps in her heart's heart to-day? 

"If even his hand and hilt were so distained, 
If he was guilty as he has been blamed, 
His death redeemed his life he chose to die 
Rather than get his freedom with a lie. 
Plant o'er his gallant heart a laurel tree, 
So may his head within the shadow be! 

236 The People's History of Ireland 

"I mourn for thee, O hero of the North 
God judge thee gentler than we do on earth! 
I mourn for thee and for our land, because 
She dare not own the martyrs in her cause; 
But they, our poets, they who justify 
They will not let thy memory rot or die!" 


Sad Fate of the Vanquished Cruel Executions and Wholesale 

HP HE subsequent fate of other chief actors in this great 
political and military drama is summed up by a 
learned historian thus : "Mountgarret and Bishop Rothe 
died before Galway (the last Irish stronghold of this war) 
fell. Bishop MacMahon, of Clogher, surrendered to Sir 
Charles Coote, and was executed like a felon by one he had 
saved from destruction a year before at Derry. Coote, after 
the Restoration, became Earl of Mountrath, and Broghill, 
Earl of Orrery. Clanricarde died unnoticed on his English 
estate, under the Protectorate. Inchiquin, after many 
adventures in foreign lands, turned Catholic in his old 
age; and this burner of churches bequeathed an annual 
alms for masses for his soul. A Roman patrician did 
the honors of sepulture for Father Luke Wadding. Hugh 
Duff O'Neill, the heroic defender of Clonmel and Lim- 
erick, and the gallant though vacillating Preston, were 
cordially received in France, while the consistent (En- 
glish) Republican, General Ludlow, took refuge as a 
fugitive (after the Restoration) in Switzerland. 

The same accomplished authority (T. D. McGee) in- 
forms us that under Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, "A 
new survey of the whole island was ordered, under the 
direction of Sir William Petty, the fortunate economist 

The People's History of Ireland 237 

who founded the House of Lansdowne. By him the sur- 
face of the kingdom was estimated at ten and a half 
million plantation acres, three millions of which were 
deducted for waste and water. Of the remainder, above 
5,000,000 acres were in Catholic hands in 1641 ; 300,000 
acres were college lands, and 2,000,000 acres were in 
possession of the Protestant settlers of the reigns of 
James I and Elizabeth. Under the Cromwellian Pro- 
tectorate, 5,000,000 acres were confiscated. This enor- 
mous spoil, two-thirds of the whole island (as then com- 
puted), went to the soldiers and adventurers who had 
served against the Irish or had contributed to the mili- 
tary chest since 1641 except 700,000 acres given in 
'exchange' to the banished in Clare and Connaught, and 
1,200,000 confirmed to 'innocent Papists' who had 
taken no part in the warfare for their country's liberty. 
And," continues our authority already quoted, "Cromwell 
anticipated the union of the kingdoms by a hundred and 
fifty years, when he summoned, in 1653, tnat assembly 
over which 'Praise-God Bare-bones' presided. Members 
for Ireland and Scotland sat on the same benches with 
the Commons of England. Oliver's first deputy in the 
government of Ireland was his son-in-law, Fleetwood, 
who had married the widow of Ireton, but his real rep- 
resentative was his fourth son, Henry Cromwell, com- 
mander-in-chief of the army. In 1657, the title of Lord 
Deputy was transferred from Fleetwood to Henry, who 
united the supreme civil and military authority in his 
own person, until the eve of the Restoration, of which 
he became an active partisan. We may thus embrace 
the five years of the Protectorate as the period of Henry 
Cromwell's administration." High Courts of Justice 

238 The People's History of Ireland 

were appointed for dealing with those who had been 
actively in arms, and many cruel executions resulted. 
Commissions were also appointed for the expatriation 
of the people, particularly the young. "Children under 
age, of both sexes, were captured by the thousands, and 
sold as slaves to the tobacco planters of Virginia and 
the West Indies. Secretary Thurloe informs Henry Crom- 
well that 'the Council have authorized 1,000 girls, and 
as many youths, to be taken up for that purpose.' Sir 
William Petty mentions 6,000 Irish boys and girls shipped 
to the West Indies. Some contemporary accounts make 
the total number of children and adults, so transported, 
100,000 souls. To this decimation we may add 34,000 
men of fighting age, who had permission to enter the 
armies of foreign powers at peace with the Common- 

As there was no Irish Parliament called under Crom- 
well's regime, the "government" of Ireland consisted, 
during that period, of the deputy, the commander-in- 
chief, and four commissioners the Puritan leaders, 
Ludlow, Corbett, Jones, and Weaver all of whom 
looked upon the Celtic-Catholic Irish, and, in fact, all 
classes of the Irish people, with bigoted hatred and in- 
solent disdain. And these men had, until the Restora- 
tion, absolute dominion over the lives and liberty, the 
rights and properties of the nation they hated! 

The Act of Uniformity, which played such a terrible 
part in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, was put into 
relentless force. The Catholics were crushed, as it were, 
into the earth, and Ireland again became a veritable 
counterpart of the infernal regions. Priests, of all ranks, 
were hunted like wild beasts, and many fell victims to 

The People's History of Ireland 239 

their heroic devotion to their flocks. Catholic lawyers 
were rigidly disbarred and Catholic school-teachers were 
subjected to deadly penalties. "Three bishops and three 
hundred ecclesiastics" perished violently during the Pro- 
tectorate. "Under the superintendence of tke commis- 
sioners," says McGee, "the distribution made of the soil 
among the Puritans 'was nearly as complete as that of 
Canaan by the Israelites.' Such Irish gentlemen as had 
obtained pardons were obliged to wear a distinctive mark 
on their dress under pain of death. Those of inferior 
rank were obliged to wear a round black spot on the 
right cheek, under pain of the branding iron and the 
gallows. If a Puritan lost his life in any district inhab- 
ited by Catholics, the whole population were held sul> 
ject to military execution. For the rest, whenever 'Tory' 
(nickname for an Irish royalist) or recusant fell into 
the hands of these military colonists, or the garrisons 
which knitted them together, they were assailed with the 
war-cry of the Jews 'That thy feet may be dipped in 
the blood of thy enemies, and that the tongues of thy 
dogs may be red with the same.' Thus, penned in (ac- 
cording to the Cromwellian penal regulation) between 
'the mile line' of the Shannon and the 'four-mile line' 
of the sea, the remnant of the Irish nation passed seven 
years of a bondage unequaled in severity by anything 
which can be found in the annals of Christendom." 

When the news of Oliver Cromwell's death, which 
occurred on September 3, 1658, reached Ireland, a sigh 
of intense relief was heaved by the persecuted nation. 
Many a prayer of thankfulness went up to the throne of 
God from outraged Irish fathers and mothers, whose 
children were sweltering as slaves under tropical suns. 

240 The People's History of Ireland 

Cromwell himself had passed away, but the "curse of 
Cromwell" remained with Ireland for many a black and 
bitter day thereafter. 

What followed after his death until the Restoration 
belongs to English history. Under his son Richard, and 
his associates, or advisers, the Protectorate proved a fail- 
ure. Then followed the negotiations with General 
Monck, and the restoration of the monarchy under 
Charles II, who landed on English soil, at Dover, May 
2.2, 1660, proceeded to London, where he was cordially 
welcomed, and renewed his interrupted reign over a 
country which, at heart, despised and distrusted him and 
all of his fated house. 


Ireland Further Scourged Under Charles II Murder of Archbishop 
Plunket Accession of James II 

THE Irish Catholics had built high hopes on the res- 
toration of Charles, but were not very jubilant when 
they learned that he had appointed as Lords Justices, in 
Dublin, their ancient foes and persecutors, Coote and Brog- 
hill, the latter now called the Earl of Orrery. In the Irish 
(provincial) Parliament, the "Undertaking" element was 
in the ascendant, and the Protestants, barely one-fifth of 
the nation, had, in the House of Lords, 72 peers of their 
faith to 21 Catholics. In the Commons the same dispar- 
ity existed, there being 198 Protestant to 64 Catholic 
members. In England, the defenders of the crown, who 
had fought against Cromwell, were, in most cases, treated 
with justice, and many had their possessions restored to 
them. In Ireland, the Royalists, of all creeds and 

The Peop/e's History of Ireland 241 

classes, were treated by the king and his advisers with 
shameful ingratitude. Most of the confiscations of the 
Cromwell period were confirmed, but the Catholic religion 
was tolerated, to a certain extent, and the lives of priests 
and schoolmasters were not placed in jeopardy as much as 
formerly. The Catholics made a good fight for the res- 
toration of their property, and were faithfully aided by 
the Earl of Kildare in Ireland and by Colonel Richard 
Talbot afterward Earl of Tyrconnel in England. But 
the Cromwellian settlers maintained the advantage in 
property they had gained. In 1775, they still held 4,500,- 
ooo acres against 2,250,000 acres held by the original 
proprietors. The figures, according to the most reliable 
authorities, were almost exactly the reverse before the 
Cromwellian settlement. An attempt on the part of the 
Catholics, to be allowed greater privileges than they pos- 
sessed, was met in a most unfriendly spirit in England. 
One of their delegates, Sir Nicholas Plunkett, was 
mobbed by the Londoners and forbidden the royal pres- 
ence by the order of the Council, while Colonel Talbot, 
because of his bold championship of the Catholic cause, 
was sent for a period to the Tower. The Irish Catholics 
were, finally, forbidden to make any further address in 
opposition to the Bill of Settlement as the act confirm- 
ing the confiscations was called and the perfidious 
Charles signed it without compunction, although he well 
knew he was beggaring his own and his father's friends. 
An English tribunal, appointed to sit in Dublin and hear 
the Irish claims, declared in favor of the plundered na- 
tive proprietors, but as it was met immediately by the 
intrigues of the ruthless Ormond, who again became 
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the duration of this honest 

242 The People's History of Ireland 

English tribunal was limited to a certain day, when only 
about 800 out of 3,000 cases had been heard. A meas- 
ure called "An Act of Explanation" was then passed 
(1665), by which it was decreed that "no Papist who 
had not been adjudged innocent under the former act 
could be so adjudged thereafter, or entitled to claim any 
lands or settlements." "Thus," remarks a historian, 
"even the inheritance of hope, and the reversion of ex- 
pectation, were extinguished forever for the sons and 
daughters of the ancient gentry of the kingdom." 

An attempt made by the titled Catholic laity and the 
prelates and priests of that faith to establish their true 
position in regard to their spiritual and secular allegiance 
was also met in a hostile manner by Ormond, who so 
managed as to excite a bitter controversy in regard to a 
document called "The Remonstrance," which was sup- 
posed to embody the Catholic idea of the period. The 
viceroy succeeded to the top of his bent. Dissension pre- 
vailed at a meeting of the surviving prelates of the Church, 
and the superiors of regular orders, held in Dublin, and 
Ormond made the failure of the gathering an excuse 
for persecuting Che prelates and priests, whom he bitterly 
hated as a body he could not use, with penal severities, 
which the selfish and sensual king, who was himself a 
Catholic in secret, allowed to pass without interference. 

In this same year (1666) the importation of Irish cat- 
tle into England was declared, by Parliamentary enact- 
ment, "a nuisance," for the reason that when the Lon- 
doners were starving, at the time of the Great Fire, Ire- 
land contributed for their relief 15,000 fat steers. In- 
stead of being grateful for the generous gift, the English 
lawmakers pretended to believe it a scheme to preserve 

The People's History of Ireland 243 

the trade in cattle between the two kingdoms. The Nav- 
igation Act invented by Cromwell which put fetters 
on Irish commerce, was also enforced, and these two 
grievances united, for a time, the Puritans and the Old 
Irish, as both suffered equally from the restrictions 
placed upon industry. Ormond showed favor to the dis- 
contented Puritans, and was recalled in consequence. 
His retirement lasted nine years, and during that period 
he became a patron of Irish manufactures, especially in 
the county of Kilkenny. A bogus "Popish plot" an off- 
shoot of that manufactured in England, during this reign, 
by that arch-impostor and perjurer, Titus Gates was 
trumped up in Ireland for purposes of religious and po- 
litical terrorism. The attempt to fasten it upon the masses 
of the people happily failed, but, without even the shadow 
of proof, the aged and venerated archbishop of Armagh, 
Oliver Plunkett, was accused of complicity in it, arrested 
and confined, without form of trial, for ten months in an 
Irish prison. Finally he was removed to London and 
placed on trial. One of his "judges" was the notorious 
Jeffreys the English Norbury a man destitute of a 
heart. Even one of the paid perjurers, called a crown 
agent, stung by remorse, offered to testify in behalf of 
the unfortunate archbishop. All was in vain, however. 
The judges charged the jury against the accused, violat- 
ing every legal form, and the hapless prelate was found 
guilty. He was sentenced to be "hanged, drawn, and 
quartered" on July i, 1681. This sentence was carried 
out in all its brutal details. When the Earl of Essex 
appealed to the king to save the illustrious martyr, 
Charles replied: "I can not pardon him, because I dare 
not. His blood be upon your conscience. You could 

244 The People's History of Ireland 

have saved him if you pleased!" And this craven king, 
a few years afterward, on his deathbed, called for the 
ministrations of a priest of the Church outraged by the 
murder of an innocent prelate ! The slaughter of Oliver 
Plunkett was the most atrocious political assassination in 
English history, which reeks with such crimes. The 
shooting of Due d'Enghien by Napoleon did not approach 
,it in cold-blooded infamy. The king, the minister, the 
court, the jury everybody believed the archbishop in- 
nocent, and yet he was sacrificed that his blood might 
satisfy the rampant bigotry of the times. 

The Catholics were ferociously pursued in Ireland 
after this shameful tragedy. Proclamations were issued 
against them by Ormond, who had yet again become 
Lord Lieutenant. They were forbidden to enter for- 
tresses or to hold fairs, markets, or gatherings within 
the walls of corporate towns. They were also forbidden 
the use of arms an old English expedient in Ireland 
and they were commanded to kill or capture any "Tory" 
or "outlaw" relative within fourteen days from the date 
of proclamation, under penalty of being arrested and 
banished from Ireland. This was the setting of brother 
against brother with a vengeance. Few of the Irith 
people were found base enough to comply with the un- 
natural order, but Count Redmond O'Hanlon, one of the 
few Irish chiefs of ancient family who still held out 
against English penal law in Ireland, was assassinated 
in a cowardly manner by one of Ormond's ruthless tools. 
The blood stains from the heart of the brave O'Hanlon 
will sully forever the escutcheon of the Irish Butlers. 

Just as the spirit of persecution of Catholics began to 
subside both in England and Ireland, Charles II, who 

The People's History of Ireland 245 

had been much worried by the political contentions in 
his English kingdom, which resulted in the banishment 
of Monmouth and the execution of Lord William Rus- 
sell and Algernon Sidney, had a stroke of apoplexy, 
which resulted in his death on February 6, 1685. In 
his last moments he was attended by the Rev. Father 
Huddlestone, who rece ved him into the Catholic Church, 
which he had betrayec so foully. He was immediately 
succeeded by his Cat! olic brother, the Duke of York, 
who ascended the thi one under the title of James II. 
James was a man of n solute purpose, good intentions, no 
doubt, but had a nan :>w intellect and sadly lacked dis- 
cretionat least in th moral sense. His physical cour- 
age has been question :d, although the famous Marshal 
Turenne certified to it, when he, in his fiery youth, served 
in the French armies. He was destined, as we shall see, 
to ruin his friends, exa^t his enemies, and wreck the an- 
cient Stuart dynasty. 


Well Meant but Imprudent Policy of King James England In- 
vites William of Orange to Assume the Throne 

A LTHOUGH the final outcome of his policy was dis- 
** astrous to Ireland, we feel justified in saying that 
James II meant well by all his subjects. He was a 
friend of religious equality an idea hateful to the En- 
glish and a large portion of the Scottish nation at that 
period. In Ireland, too, the Protestant minority resented 
it, because, to their minds, it meant Catholic ascendency 
and the restoration of stolen estates. But James went 
about his reforms so awkwardly, and imprudently, that 
he brought on himself almost immediately the all but 

246 The People's History of Ireland 

unanimous ill-will of his English subjects. He dared to 
profess his Catholic faith openly an unforgivable of- 
fence in England at that time. He sought to equalize 
the holding of office by the abolition of the Test Act, 
aimed against Catholics, so that English, Scotch, and 
Irish Catholics should have the same rights and priv- 
ileges in that respect as their Protestant brethren. This, 
also, was an idea hateful to the English mind of the 
period. The king undertook to regulate the judiciary, 
the privy council, the army, the civil list every public 
appointment according to his own notions. This meant 
recognition of the Catholics and produced an uproar in 
England. He recalled Ormond from the viceroyalty of 
Ireland and sent Lord Clarendon to take his place. Fi- 
nally, Clarendon resigned and Richard Talbot, who had 
been created Duke of Tyrconnel, was made Lord Lieu- 
tenant of Ireland. This appointment alarmed the Irish 
Protestants, who, as usual, feared that the Catholics 
would get back their lands under a friendly executive, 
such as Tyrconnel whose former exertions in regard to 
the Catholic claims were not forgotten was well known 
to be. He was injudicious enough, at the outset, to dis- 
miss many Protestant officers from the Irish military 
establishment and place Catholics in their positions. Al- 
though this was done by proportion, Protestant jealousy 
was aroused and the seeds of revolt were deeply planted. 
In England, popular feeling against the king was at 
fever heat. His illegitimate Protestant nephew putative 
son of Charles II the Duke of Monmouth, who had been 
exiled, returned to- England and organized a rebellion 
against him. This ill-starred movement culminated at 
Sedgemoor, in Somersetshire, in the summer of 1685. 

The People's History of Ireland 247 

A battle was fought there between the unorganized En- 
glish peasants, under "King Monmouth," as they called 
him, and the royal army, under the Earl of Feversham. 
The rebels fought with commendable courage, but were 
badly commanded and suffered an overwhelming defeat. 
Monmouth escaped from the field, but was captured soon 
afterward, tried, found guilty, and beheaded on Tower 
Hill, of bloody memory, July 15, 1685. He had appealed 
in vain to James for mercy, and appealed in a manner so 
craven and undignified that he aroused the disgust of his 
stern uncle. But the blood of the vanquished did not 
cease to flow when Monmouth died. The "Bloody As- 
sizes," conducted by Jeffreys, the "great crimson toad," 
as Dickens describes him, and four assistant judges, 
spread death and terror throughout the English districts 
recently in revolt. This period of English history bore a 
striking resemblance to the 1798 period in Ireland, when 
other "great crimson toads" hanged the hapless peas- 
antry, and some of higher rank, by the hundred and thou- 
sand. All this butchery made James unpopular with a 
vast majority of the English people, but, as he had no 
male heir, the nation hesitated to rise against him, espe- 
cially as Monmouth himself had been the aggressor. But 
James, while Duke of York, had married a young wife, 
the Princess Mary, sister of the Duke of Modena, who 
bore him a son afterward called by the Hanoverian fac- 
tion the Pretender in June, 1688. This altered the whole 
aspect of affairs and a revolution became imminent im- 
mediately. Mary of Modena, although an intelligent and 
amiable woman, was of a haughty and somewhat punc- 
tilious disposition at times. This made her almost as un- 
popular with the English people as was her husband. Sir 

248 The People's History of Ireland 

Walter Scott relates that, while Duchess of York, she ac- 
companied her husband to Scotland, whither he went at 
the behest of his brother, King Charles. James got along 
very well with the Scotch, particularly the Highlanders, 
who adored him, and whose loyalty to his family remained 
unshaken until after Culloden. He invited an old Conti- 
nental veteran, Sir Thomas Dalzell, to dine with him. 
The duchess had the bad taste to object to the company 
of a commoner. "Make yourself easy on that head, 
madam," remarked Sir Thomas; "I have sat at a table 
where your father might have stood behind my chair!" 
He alluded to a dinner given him and others by the Em- 
peror of Austria, who was the suzerain of the Duke of 
Modena. The latter, if called upon by the emperor, would 
have had to act in the capacity of an honorary waiter. 
All students of history are, doubtless, familiar with the 
romantic chivalry displayed by Edward the Black Prince, 
when he waited upon his captive, King John of France, 
whom he had vanquished at Poitiers. Mary of Modena 
was, we may be sure, not formed by nature to make 
friends for her husband, as the brave Margaret of Anjou 
did for the physically and mentally degenerate Plan- 
tagenet, Henry VI. Had Mary been a Margaret, William 
of Orange might never have occupied the throne of "the 
Three Kingdoms." The climax of King James's political 
imprudences they can not, in the light of modern ideas 
of religious equality, be called errors was reached when 
he issued his famous declaration against test oaths and 
penal laws, and decreed that it should be read from the 
altars of the Protestant, as well as the Catholic, churches 
throughout England. Six Protestant prelates, headed by 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, made protest by petition 

The People's History of Ireland 249 

and even visited the king in his bedchamber to dissuade 
him from his purpose. But he persisted, as was usual' 
with him. 

On the Sunday following the bishops' call, out of 
10,000 English clergymen only 200 complied with the 
royal decree. Of course we, Americans, who have equal 
laws for all creeds and classes, can not consistently con- 
demn King James for advocating what we ourselves prac- 
tice, but we can afford to lament the- fatuity which led 
him to dare Protestant resentment by seeking to make 
Protestant pulpits the mediums of his radical policy. It 
was playing with fire. Had he stopped short at this point, 
James might have still held his crown, but, with incurable 
obstinacy, he insisted on prosecuting the recalcitrant 
bishops before the Court of King's Bench, and they were 
finally committed by the Privy Council to the Tower of 
London. All England was now ablaze with fierce re- 
sentment. At the Tower the right reverend prisoners 
were treated more like royal personages than captives. 
The officers and soldiers of the army excepting the Irish 
regiments raised by Tyrconnel for James, and sent to do 
garrison duty in England openly drank to their speedy 
release. When they came to trial in the King's Bench, 
the jury, after being out on the case all night, found the 
six prelates not guilty on the charge of censuring the 
king's government and defying the king's mandate, and 
they were immediately released amid popular acclama- 

The "loyal" Protestant majority had succeeded in 
placing the Catholic minority, their own fellow-country- 
men, in a position of political nonentity, simply because 
they worshiped God according to their belief. Who could, 

250 The People's History of Ireland 

then, have imagined that the England which refused 
"equality in the holding of office to Catholic subjects would, 
about two hundred years later, have a Catholic for Lord 
Chief Justice and an Irish Catholic (Lord Russell of Kill- 
owen) at that? Five generations have done much toward 
a change of sentiment in England. But King James, we 
are told, on hearing the shouts of the people when the 
acquittal was announced, asked of Lord Feversham, who 
happened to be with him: "What do they shout for?" 
And Feversham replied, carelessly: "Oh, nothing only 
the acquittal of the bishops !" "And you call that noth- 
ing?" cried the king. "So much the worse for them," 
meaning the people. These latter were excited by the 
Protestant lords and gentry, who much feared a Catholic 
succession, now that the king had an heir-male to the 
throne. Both of his daughters Mary, married to Wil- 
liam, Prince of Orange, the king's nephew, and Anne, 
who became the wife of the Prince of Denmark were 
Protestants, their mother having brought them up in 
that belief. William, half a Stuart and half a Dutchman, 
brave, resolute, and wise withal, seemed to the English 
malcontents to be the "heaven-appointed" man to supplant 
his own uncle and father-in-law. William was nothing 
loth, and Mary, who was to share the throne with him, 
made no objection to this most unfilial proceeding. 
Neither did Anne, who, like the unnatural creature she 
was, fled from her father's palace, guided and guarded 
by the Protestant Bishop of London, as soon as she heard 
of William's almost unobstructed march on the capital. 
That personage had landed at Torbay, in Devonshire, on 
November 5 the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot 
of the days of James I convoyed by an immense fleet, 

The People's History of Ireland 251 

which carried to the shores of England a picked veteran 
army of 15,000 men. This army was commanded, under 
William, by the Marshal Duke of Schomberg, Count 
Solmes, General De Ginkel, and other officers of European 
renown. The principal plotters who invited William to 
seize the crown of England were the Earls of Danby, 
Shrewsbury, Devonshire, the Bishop of London, Lord 
Lumley, Admiral Russell, and Colonel Sidney. Just a 
little while before the coming of William, James took the 
alarm and attempted to make concessions to the Protes- 
tants. He also decreed the strengthening of the army, and 
the enlistment of Irish Catholics and Scotch Highlanders, 
most of whom had retained the old faith, was encouraged. 
At the news of William's arrival in Exeter, whither 
he had marched from Torbay, the English aristocracy 
became wildly excited and hastened to join his standard. 
The faculty of the University of Oxford sent him word 
that, if he needed money to carry out his enterprise, 
the plate of that institution would be melted down to 
furnish him with a revenue. An agreement of the no- 
bility and gentry was drawn up and signed, and in it they 
promised to stand by William of Orange and each other, 
"in defence of the laws and liberties of the three king- 
doms and the Protestant religion." Thus, it will be no- 
ticed, Protestant interests was the cry of the majority in 
England, opposed to James, who, as we have said, aimed 
at equality of all creeds before the law, while in Ireland, 
where the old faith "prevailed mightily," Catholic inter- 
ests, or civil and religious liberty, became, also, the war- 
cry of the majority. In England the Catholic minority 
remained mostly supine during this period and until long 
afterward. In Scotland the Catholics and many Episco- 

252 The People's History of Ireland 

palians rallied for James under the leadership of the im- 
placable and brilliant Claverhouse, afterward created Vis- 
count Dundee. They took the field for "J ames VII of 
Scotland," as they called the exiled king, at the first tap 
of the war drum. The Catholic majority in Ireland natu- 
rally recognized in the unfortunate monarch a friend who 
offered them religious and political liberty, and so they 
resolved to place their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" 
at his disposal. 

The Irish Catholics can not be justly blamed for their 
devotion to the cause of James, who, whatever his mo- 
tives, was the first King of England who ever at- 
tempted to do them even ordinary justice. Tyrcon- 
nel, like Strafford in a preceding reign, although with 
a very different intention, began the organization of a 
formidable Irish army, which was designed to be com- 
posed of twenty regiments of horse, fifty of foot, and ar- 
tillery in the usual proportion. There were men for the 
mere asking, but arms, ammunition, and equipments were 
sadly lacking. The weakest arm of the military branch 
of the public service was the artillery, and this continued 
to be the fact throughout all of the subsequent war. As 
William drew nearer to London, the bulk of the native 
English army, following the example of the highest offi- 
cers including Colonel John Churchill, afterward the 
great Duke of Marlborough went over to him. This de- 
termined James to abandon his capital, yet his friends 
induced him to return for a period. But the still nearer 
approach of "the Deliverer," as the English called Wil- 
liam of Orange, again induced him to fly from London. 
He had previously provided for the safety of the queen 
and the infant heir to the now forfeited crown, who had 

The People's History of Ireland 253 

taken refuge in France. The date of his final departure 
from Whitehall Palace was December n. After not a 
few perilous adventures, he reached the court of his 
cousin, Louis XIV, at Versailles, on Christmas Day, 
1688. He was most honorably and hospitably received, 
and Louis placed at his disposal the royal palace of St. 
Germain, in the neighborhood of Paris. When James 
heard of the desertion of his youngest daughter, Anne, 
to his enemies, the wretched parent, who has been called 
"the modern Lear," exclaimed in the anguish of his soul : 
"God help me ! My very children have deserted me !" 


Irish Soldiers Ill-Treated in England Policy of Tyrconnel King 
James Chosen by the Irish Nation 

SUCH Irish soldiers as had remained in England after 
the flight of James were mobbed, insulted, and even 
murdered by the unthinking multitude, so easily excited 
to deeds of cruelty. These men had done the English 
people no wrong they had shed no English blood, and 
they even wore the English uniform. Many fell in sav- 
age combats with the furious mobs, but the majority 
fought their way to the seaports, where they, by some 
means, obtained shipment to Ireland, carrying with them 
many a bitter memory of England and her people. Many 
of these persecuted troops were well-trained cavalry, who 
afterward manifested splendid prowess at the Boyne and 
in other engagements. Their colonels were all members 
of the ancient Irish nobility, Celtic or Norman, and they 
were quite incapable of the crimes the credulous English' 
mobs were taught to believe they were ready to commit 
at the earliest opportunity. Although the English peo- 

254 The People's History of Ireland 

pie, in their- normal condition, are a steady and coura- 
geous race, they are, when unduly excited, capable of en- 
tertaining sentiments and performing acts discreditable 
to them as a nation. A people so ready to resent any 
imposition, real or fancied, on themselves, should be a 
little less quick to punish others for following their ex- 
ample. It is not too much to say that the English, as a 
majority, have been made the victims of more religious 
and political hoaxes imposed upon them by evil-minded 
knaves than any other civilized nation. It was of the 
English, rather than ourselves, the great American show- 
man, Barnum, should have said : "These people love to 
be humbugged !" 

From the French court, which entirely sympathized 
with him, James entered into correspondence with his 
faithful subject and friend, Tyrconnel, in Ireland. The 
viceroy sent him comforting intelligence, for all the Cath- 
olics of fighting age were willing to bear arms in his de- 
fence. James sent Tyrconnel about 10,000 good mus- 
kets, with the requisite ammunition, to be used by the 
new levies. These were obtained from the bounty of 
the King of France. As Tyrconnel was convinced that 
Ireland, of herself, could hardly make headway against 
William of Orange, backed as he was by most of Great 
Britain and half of Europe, he conceived the idea of plac- 
ing her, temporarily at least, under a French protector- 
ate, in the shape of an alliance defensive and offensive, 
if necessary. He had the tact to keep King James in 
ignorance of this agreement, because he did not wish him 
to jeopardize his chance of regaining the British crown, 
which a consenting to the French protectorate would 
have utterly forfeited. Tyrconnel's policy, under the 

The People's History of Ireland 255 

circumstances in which Ireland was placed, may have 
been a wise one, although, in general, any dependency of 
one country upon another is fatal to the liberty of the de- 
pendent nation. Ireland, contrary to general belief, is 
large enough to stand alone, if she had control of her 
own resources. To illustrate briefly, she is within a few 
thousand square miles of being as large as Portugal, and 
is much more fertile; while she is almost a third greater 
in area than Holland and Belgium combined. Her ex- 
tensive coast line, numerous safe harbors, and exceeding 
productiveness amply compensate for the comparative 
smallness of her area. 

In February, 1689, the national conventions of Eng- 
land and Scotland, by vast majorities, declared that King 
James had abdicated and offered the crown to William 
and Mary, who, as might have been expected, accepted 
it with thanks. Ireland had nothing to say in the mat- 
ter, except by the voices of a few malcontents who had 
fled to Britain. Nevertheless, the new sovereigns finally 
assumed the rather illogical title of "William and Mary, 
'by the grace of God,' King and Queen of England, Scot- 
land, France, and Ireland." In France they held not a 
foot of ground; and in Ireland four-fifths of the people 
acknowledged King James. James Graham, of Claver- 
house (Viscount Dundee), expressed his dissent from the 
majority in the convention of Scotland. Sir Walter Scott 
has immortalized the event in the stirring lyric which be- 
gins thus : 

"To the Lords of Convention 'twas Claverhouse spoke, -~ *# g 
'Ere the king's crown shall fall, there are crowns to be brokf!, 
So let each cavalier, who loves honor and me, I S^$M 

Come follow the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee!" '^fftf*^ 

Ireland 12 Vol. 4$i ; . ' i g 

256 The People's History of Ireland 

James had some strong partisans in England also 
mostly among the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian 
High Church elements, but they were powerless to stem 
the overwhelming tide of public opinion against him. 
Ireland was with him vehemently, except the small Prot- 
estant minority, chiefly resident in Ulster, which was en- 
thusiastic for William and Mary. Representatives of 
this active element had closed the gates of Derry in the 
face of the Earl of Antrim, when he demanded the town's 
surrender, in the name of the deposed king, in December, 
1688. This incident proved that the Irish Protestants, 
with the usual rule-proving exceptions, meant "war to 
the knife" against the Catholic Stuart dynasty. Thus 
civil war, intensified by foreign intervention, became in- 

The towns of Inniskillen, Sligo, Coleraine, and the 
fort of Culmore, on the Foyle, either followed the ex- 
ample of Derry, or were seized without ceremony by 
the partisans of William and Mary in Ulster and Con- 
naught. These partisans, headed by Lord Blaney, Sir 
Arthur Rawdon, and other Anglo-Irishmen, invited 
William to come into the country, "for the maintenance 
of the Protestant religion and the dependency of Ireland 
upon England." Thus, again, was the Protestant re- 
ligion made the pretext of provincializing Ireland, and 
because of this identification of it with British supremacy 
the new creed has remained undeniably unpopular with 
the masses of the Irish people. The latter are very ar- 
dent Catholics, as their long and bloody wars in de- 
fence of their faith have amply proven, but while this 
statement is undeniable, it can not be denied either that 
had the so-called Reformation not been identified with 

The People's History of Ireland 257 

English political supremacy, it might have made much 
greater inroads among the Irish population than it has 
succeeded in doing. Ireland was treated not a whit bet- 
ter under the Catholic rulers of England, from 1169 to 
the period of Mary I Henry VIII was a schismatic 
rather than a Protestant than under her Protestant 
rulers, until James II appeared upon the scene, and his 
clemency toward the Irish was based upon religious, 
rather than national grounds. Even in our own day, 
the English Catholics are among the strongest opponents 
of Irish legislative independence, and in the category of 
such opponents may be classed the late Cardinal Vaughan 
and the present Duke of Norfolk. 

King James, at the call of the Irish majority, left his 
French retreat, and sailed from Brest with a fleet pro- 
vided by King Louis, which saw him in safety to mem- 
orable Kinsale, where he landed on March 12, old style, 
1689. He was accompanied by about 1,200 veteran 
troops, French and Irish, with a sprinkling of royalists, 
Scotch and English, and several officers of high rank, 
including Lieutenant-General De Rosen, Lieutenant-Gen- 
eral Maumont, Major-General De Lery, Major-General 
Pusignan, Colonel Patrick Sarsfield, afterward the re- 
nowned Earl of Lucan, and the king's two natural sons, 
the Duke of Berwick and Grand Prior Fitzjames. There 
came with him also fifteen Catholic chaplains, most of 
whom could speak the Gaelic tongue, and these gentle- 
men were very useful to him on a mission such as he 
had undertaken. The progress of the ill-fated monarch 
through Ireland, from Kinsale to Dublin was, in every 
sense, a royal one. The Irish masses, ever grateful to 
any one who makes sacrifices, or who even appears to 

258 The People's History of Ireland 

make them, in their behalf, turned out in all their 
strength. A brilliant cavalcade, headed by the dashing 
Duke of Tyrconnel, escorted the king from town to 
town. His collateral descent from King Edward Bruce, 
freely chosen by Ireland early in the fourteenth century, 
was remembered. James was, therefore, really wel- 
comed as King of Ireland. The Irish cared nothing for 
his British title. If the choice of the majority of a 
nation makes regal title binding, then James II was as 
truly elected King of Ireland, in 1689, as Edward Bruce 
was in 1315. And we make this statement thus plainly, 
because it will enable non-Irish and non-Catholic readers 
to understand why Catholic Ireland fought so fiercely 
and devotedly for an English ruler who had lost his 
crown in the assertion of Catholic rights and privileges. 
There was still another cause for this devotion of the 
majority of the Irish people to King James. He had 
consented to the summoning of a national Irish parlia- 
ment, in which Protestants as well as Catholics were to 
be represented in due proportion, and this decision on 
his part made many of the Episcopalian Irish either neu- 
tral in the civil conflict or active on his side. The num- 
ber of such persons as were comprised in the latter class 
was comparatively insignificant just enough to mitigate 
the curse of absolute sectarianism in the contest. The 
Dissenting or non-conforming Irish were, almost to a 
unit, hostile to the Jacobite cause. 




King James in Ireland Enthusiastic Reception of Him by the Irish 
People Military Operations 

NOTHING could exceed the enthusiasm with which 
the Irish people welcomed King James. In the 
cities and towns, flowers were strewn in his path, cor- 
poration officials turned out in their robes of state, and 
speeches of welcome were delivered in English or read 
in Latin. The entry into Dublin was a magnificent spec- 
tacle. The whole city was in gala dress, and the differ- 
ent trades paraded before him. Harpers played at the 
triumphal arches under which he passed. Beautiful young 
girls, costumed in pure white, and coroneted with wreaths, 
danced the ancient Irish national dance, known as the 
Rinka, in the progress of which flowers were profusely 
scattered by the fair performers. The religious orders 
were out in force, a great cross being borne at their 
head. The viceroy, lord mayor, and members of the 
corporation, on horseback or in carriages, made up an 
imposing part of the procession. When he reached the 
Castle, the sword of state was presented to him by the 
Lord Lieutenant, and the Recorder handed him, accord- 
ing to an old custom, the keys of the city. "Te Deum" 
was sung in the Chapel Royal, one of the architectural 
creations of the Duke of Tyrconnel. From the flagstaff 
on the tower of the Castle itself, floated an Irish na- 
tional flag, with a golden harp upon its folds; and on 

this broad ensign were inscribed the inspiring and sadly 


262 The People's History of Ireland 

prophetic words, "Now or Never! Now and Forever!" 
Wherever the king appeared in public, he was greeted 
with enthusiastic shouts, in Gaelic, of "Righ Seamus! 
Righ Seamus, Go Bragh"! ("King James King James, 

The military situation of King James's adherents in 
Ireland could not be called encouraging when he took up 
his residence in Dublin. As usual, arms and ammuni- 
tion were scarce. Some 30,000 men had volunteered to 
fight for Ireland, and there were not more than 20,000 
stand of arms, all told, to place in their hands. And 
of this small supply, fully three-fourths were antiquated 
and worthless. While there were, nominally, fifty regi- 
ments of infantry enrolled, the only serviceable regiments 
of horse were those of Galmoy, Tyrconnel, and Russell. 
There was one regiment of dragoons, and of cannon 
only eight field pieces had been collected. The two best- 
equipped bodies of Irish troops were the command of 
General Richard Hamilton, in Ulster about 3,000 men ; 
and that of General Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel, 
in Munster slightly more numerous. Deny and In- 
niskillen held out for William of Orange, and notwith- 
standing some successes of General Hamilton in the 
North, there seemed no immediate prospect of reducing 
them. The stubborn attitude of Inniskillen delayed the 
junction of Mountcashel's and Hamilton's forces, which 
had been ordered by the Duke of Tyrconnel, commander- 
in-chief of the Irish army, with General De Rosen as 
his second in command. The smaller places occupied 
by the Williamite forces were abandoned as being un- 
tenable, and the little garrisons fell back on London- 
derry, which had now become the main objective of the 

The People's History of Ireland 263 

Jacobite army. The military governor, Lundy, was sus- 
pected of being, at heart, a Stuart sympathizer, but he 
was soon virtually superseded, first by Governor Baker 
and afterward by the celebrated Rev. George Walker, 
rector of the living of Donoughmore, to whom history 
awards the glory of the long, desperate, brilliant, and 
successful defence of Derry against the armies of King 
James. It is a pity that the ability and bravery dis- 
played by Dr. Walker have been made causes of po- 
litical and religious irritation in the north of Ireland for 
upward of two centuries. Lundy, when his authority 
was defied, escaped from the city at night, in the disguise 
of a laborer, and cut no further figure in Irish history. 
Before his flight, King James's flatterers in Dublin had 
persuaded him to advance against Derry in person and 
demand its surrender. Tyrconnel opposed the idea in 
vain. He well knew that Lundy was in correspondence 
with Hamilton and De Rosen for the surrender of the 
city. It is quite probable that Derry would have finally 
surrendered, on honorable terms, had James taken Tyr- 
connel's advice; but, with his usual fatuity, the obstinate 
king took the advice of the shallow courtiers, and did 
actually present himself before the walls of Derry and 
demand its unconditional surrender! The reply was a 
cannon shot, which killed an officer at James's side. The 
king retired with precipitation, and the citizens sent after 
him the "Prentice Boys' " shout of "No surrender !" Mor- 
tified by his rather ignominious failure, James retired to 
Dublin, and summoned Parliament to meet on the lines 
already indicated. 

264 The People's History of Ireland 


Jacobites Foiled at Londonderry Mountcashel Defeated at New- 
town Butler King James's Irish Parliament 

THE siege of Derry was continued under the super- 
vision of Maumont and Hamilton, who had quite a 
large force at their disposal. It is regrettable to have to 
state that the Protestant population of Ulster was further 
inflamed against the Stuart cause by the needless excesses 
of Galmoy and the barbaric severity of De Rosen, who 
placed a crowd of helpless women and children between 
two fires under the ramparts of Derry, in the hope of 
compelling the garrison to surrender. The brilliant vic- 
tories obtained over the Williamites at Coleraine and 
Cladysford, by General Hamilton, in the earlier part of 
the campaign, were more than offset by the overwhelm- 
ing defeat inflicted by General Wolseley, at Newtown 
Butler, on the Jacobite army under Mountcashel. It was 
Irish against Irish, but the Inniskilleners, who made up 
the bulk of Wolseley's force, were seasoned soldiers, well 
armed and well directed. Mountcashel's men were 
chiefly green levies, and the battle was really lost through 
their faulty manoeuvring. One brigade mistook an or- 
der to change front, so as to form a new line against a 
flank attack of the enemy, for an order to retreat, and so 
spread a panic that proved fatal. Mountcashel himself 
was dangerously wounded and made prisoner. He lost 
2,000 men in killed and wounded, and 400 fugitives, com- 
pletely surrounded, surrendered at some distance from 
the field. This battle was fought on July 31, 1689, and, 

The People's History of Ireland 265 

on the same day, Derry was relieved by an English fleet, 
which succeeded in breaking the boom that had been 
constructed by the Jacobite engineers across the mouth 
of the harbor. 

It will be remembered that the gates of the city 
were closed against Lord Antrim on December 7, 1688. 
Hamilton's bombardment of the place began on the 
1 7th of April, 1689, and lasted for three months. 
There was a total blockade for three weeks, and pro- 
visions became so scarce that the defenders actually de- 
voured dogs, cats, rats, mice anything, however revolt- 
ing, that migtit satisfy the cravings of absolute hunger. 
The besiegers also suffered from bad weather and the 
shots from the hostile batteries. A rough computation 
places the total loss of the defenders at about 4,000 men, 
and that of the assailants at 6,000 the latter loss chiefly 
by disease. The relief of Derry was a mortal blow to the 
cause of King James, and soon afterward he lost every 
important post in Ulster, except Carrickfergus and 
Charlemont. Yet, as an Irish writer has well remarked, 
Ulster was bestowed by the king's grandfather "upon 
the ancestors of those who now unanimously rejected 
and resisted him." His cause also received a fatal stroke 
in Scotland by the death of the brave Dundee, who fell, 
vainly victorious, over the Williamite general, Mackay, 
at the battle of Killecrankie, fought July 26, 1689. Duke 
Schomberg arrived in Belfast Lough with a large fleet 
and army on Augustrjtb. Count Solmes was his sec- 
ond in command. He laid siege to Carrickfergus, which 
capitulated on fair terms after eight days' bombardment. 
Charlemont, defended by the brave and eccentric Colonel 
Teague O'Reagan, held out till the following May, 

266 The People's History of Ireland 

when it surrendered with the honors of war. It is said 
that King William, on his arrival in Ireland, knighted 
O'Reagan in recognition of the brilliancy of his defence. 
The young Duke of Berwick made a gallant stand in the 
neighborhood, but was finally compelled to yield ground 
to the superior forces of Schomberg. Critics of the lat- 
ter's strategy hold that he committed a grave military 
error in failing to march on the Irish capital, which was 
not in a good posture of defence, immediately after land- 
ing in Ulster. Had he done so, King James must have 
had to evacuate Dublin and fall back on the defensive 
line of the Shannon, as Tyrconnel and Sarsfield did at a 
later period. Then Schomberg, it is claimed, would not 
have lost more than half of his army, by dysentery, at his 
marshy camp near Dundalk, where King James, in the 
autumn, bearded and defied him to risk battle with the 
stronger and healthier Jacobite forces. There would 
have been no occasion for the Battle of the Boyne, the 
memory of which has divided and distracted Irishmen 
for more than two centuries, had the challenge been 

The Parliament summoned by James met in the Inn's 
Court, Dublin, in the summer of 1689. It was composed 
of 46 peers and 228 commoners. Of the former body, 
several were High Church Protestants, but, in the Lower 
House, there were comparatively few members of the 
"reformed religion." This, however, was not the fault 
of the king or his advisers, as they were sincere in their 
desire to have a full Protestant representation in that 
Parliament. But, perhaps naturally, the Protestants were 
suspicious of the king's good intentions, and so the ma- 
jority held aloof from the Parliamentary proceedings. 

The People's History of Ireland 267 

The most important acts passed by that Parliament were 
one establishing liberty of conscience, which provided, 
among other things, that Catholics should not be com- 
pelled to pay tithes to Protestant clergymen, and vice 
versa; another act established the judicial independence of 
Ireland, by abolishing writs of error and appeal to Eng- 
land. The Act of Settlement was repealed, under protest 
by the Protestant peers, who did not, for obvious rea- 
sons, wish the question of land titles obtained by fraud 
and force opened up. An act of attainder, directed against 
persons in arms against their sovereign in Ireland, was 
added to the list of measures. Heedless of the advice 
of his wisest friends, James vetoed the bill for the repeal 
of the infamous Poynings' Law, which made the Irish 
Parliament dependent upon that of England ; and also de- 
clined to approve a measure establishing Inns of CouYt 
for the education of Irish law students. In the first-men- 
tioned case, James acted from a belief that his own pre- 
rogative of vetoing Irish measures in council was at- 
tacked, but his hostility to the measure for legal education 
has never been satisfactorily explained. Taken as a 
whole, however, King James's Irish Parliament was a 
legislative success; and it enabled the Protestant patriot 
and orator, Henry Grattan, when advocating Catholic 
claims in the Irish Parliament a hundred years afterward, 
to say: "Although Papists, the Irish Catholics were not 
slaves. They wrung a Constitution from King James be- 
fore they accompanied him to the field." 

268 The People's History of Ireland 


King James's Imprudent Acts Witty Retort of a Protestant Peer 
Architectural Features of Dublin 

OUR last chapter showed that Ireland, although her 
population was overwhelmingly Catholic, began her 
struggle for civil liberty by a non-sectarian enactment, 
which left the exercise of religion free. Yet, strange to 
say, this wise and liberal policy did not win her the 
sympathy of Europe, Protestant or Catholic, outside of 
France, whose king had personal reasons for his friend- 
liness. Louis XIV was both hated and feared by the 
sovereigns of continental, as well as insular, Europe. 
A combination, called the League of Augsburg, was 
formed against him, and of this League the Emperor of 
Germany was the head and William of Orange an active 
member. Spain, Savoy, and other Catholic states were 
as zealous against Louis as the Protestant states of Swe- 
den and North Germany. Even the Pope was on the 
side of the French king's foes. In fact, when Duke 
Schomberg landed, the war had resolved itself into a con- 
flict between the rest of Europe, except Muscovy and 
Turkey and their dependencies, and France and Ireland. 
It was a most unequal struggle, but most gallantly main- 
tained, with varying fortune, on Irish soil chiefly, for two 
long and bloody years. 

King James made enemies among his warmest sup- 
porters by increasing the subsidy voted him by Parlia- 
ment to twice the original amount, payable monthly. He 
also debased the currency, by issuing "brass money," 
which led to the demoralization of trade, and Tyrconnel, 

The People's History of Ireland 269 

after James's departure from Ireland, was compelled to 
withdraw the whole fraudulent issue in order to stop the 
popular clamor. Some Protestant writers, notably Dr. 
Cooke Taylor, have warmly commended the king's judi- 
cial appointments in Ireland, with few exceptions. In 
short, to sum up this portion of his career, James II acted 
in Ireland the part of despot benevolently inclined, who 
thought he was doing a wise thing in giving the people 
a paternal form of government. But the Irish people 
can not long endure one-man rule, unless convinced that 
the one man is much wiser than the whole mass of the 
nation, which is not often the case. It certainly was not 
in the case of King James. His establishment of a bank 
by proclamation and his decree of a bank restriction act 
annoyed and angered the commercial classes, whose prices 
for goods he also sought to regulate. But his crowning 
act of unwisdom was interference with the government of 
that time-honored educational institution, Trinity College, 
Dublin, on which, notwithstanding its statutes, he sought 
to force officers of his own choosing. He also wished to 
make fellowships and scholarships open to Catholics a 
just principle, indeed, but a rash policy, considering that 
every act of the kind only multiplied his enemies among 
the Protestants of Ireland, who were already sufficiently 
hostile. Had King James proceeded slowly in his chosen 
course, he might have come down to posterity as a suc- 
cessful royal reformer. Unfortunately for his fame, pos- 
terity in general regards him as a conspicuous political as 
well as military failure. 

Among King James's chosen intimates and advisers 
during his residence in Dublin, the most distinguished 
were the Duke of Tyrconnel, the Earl of Melfort, Sec- 

270 The People's History of Ireland 

retary of State ; Count D'Avaux, the French Ambassador ; 
Lord Mountcashel, Colonel Sarsfield, afterward so fa- 
mous; Most Rev. Dr. McGuire, Primate of Ireland, and 
Chief Justice Lord Nugent. He generally attended Mass 
every morning in the Chapel Royal, and, on Sundays, 
assisted at solemn High Mass. One Sunday, he was at- 
tended to the entrance of the chapel by a loyal Protestant 
lord, whose father had been a Catholic, as James's had 
been a Protestant. As he was taking his leave, the 
king remarked, rather dryly: "My lord, your father 
would have gone farther." "Very true, sire," responded 
the witty nobleman, "but your Majesty's father would 
not have gone so far!" 

The Dublin of that time was not, in any sense, the 
attractive city it is to-day. Beyond the great cathedrals 
and the ancient Castle, there was little to attract the eye, 
except the beauty of the surroundings, which are still the 
admiration of all visitors. A century after the reign of 
King James, Dublin, from an architectural standpoint, 
became one of the most classical of European capitals; 
and the Houses of Parliament, the Four Courts, the Cus- 
tom House, and other public buildings, became the pride 
of the populace. These monuments of Irish genius still 
exist, although shorn of their former glory; but they 
serve, at least, to attest what Ireland could accomplish 
under native rule. There is not a penny of English money 
in any of these magnificent structures. All the credit of 
their construction belongs to the Irish Parliaments of the 
eighteenth century. 

The People's History of Ireland 271 


Composition of the Hostile Armies King William Arrives in Ire- 
land Narrowly Escapes Death on Eve of Battle 

DURING the spring and early summer of 1690, the 
war clouds began to mass themselves heavily in the 
northeastern portion of the island, where Duke Schom- 
berg, his depleted army somewhat recruited, still held 
his ground at Dundalk, with small garrisons posted 
throughout Ulster. But it was soon known that Wil- 
liam of Orange, in person, was to command in chief in 
this fateful campaign. Several engagements, with vary- 
ing fortune, had occurred between the rival armies in dif- 
ferent parts of the north country, where the Duke of Ber- 
wick waged a vigorous campaign against the William- 
ites. James, dissatisfied with the French Ambassador, 
D'Avaux, and Lieutenant-General De Rosen, demanded, 
and obtained, their recall by King Louis. By an arrange- 
ment between the two monarchs, Mountcashel's command 
of 6,000 men was exchanged for 6,000 French troops, 
under Lieutenant-General De Lauzun, who eventually 
proved to be even a greater marplot and blunderer than 
the odious De Rosen. Mountcashel's force formed the 
Old Irish Brigade, of immortal memory, in the French 
service, and almost immediately after its arrival in France 
was sent to operate under the famous Lieutenant-General 
St. Ruth in Savoy. It also served in several campaigns 
under the great Marshal Catinat, "Father Thoughtful," 
as he was fondly called by the French army. The ex- 
change proved a bad bargain for Ireland, as will be seen 
in the course of this narration. James hoped much from 

272 The People's History of Ireland 

the skill and daring of the French contingent, but was 
doomed to bitter disappointment. "His troops," says 
McGee, "were chiefly Celtic and Catholic. There were 
four regiments commanded by O'Neills, two by O'Briens, 
one each by McCarthy More, Maguire, O*More, O'Don- 
nell, McMahon, and Magennis, chiefly recruited among 
their own clansmen. There were also the regiments of 
Sarsfield, Nugent, De Courcy, Fitzgerald, Grace, and 
Burke, chiefly Celts in the rank and file. On the other 
hand, Schomberg led into the field the famous Blue and 
White Dutch regiments; the Huguenot regiments of 
Schomberg (the Younger), La Millinier, Du Cambon, 
and La Caillemotte ; the English regiments of Lords Dev- 
onshire, Delamere, Lovelace, Sir John Lanier, Colonels 
Langston, Villiers, and others ; the Anglo-Irish regiments 
of Lords Meath, Roscommon, Kingston, and Drogheda, 
with the Ulstermen under Brigadier Wolseley and Colo- 
nels Gustavus Hamilton, Mitchellburn, Lloyd, White, St. 
John, and Tiffany." 

The absence of a fleet, the entire navy having gone over 
to William, placed James at a great disadvantage, and 
explains why there were no sea fights of importance in 
British and Irish waters during this war. Isolated French 
squadrons could not be expected to make headway against 
the united navies of Britain and Holland. William, on 
the contrary, had the seas wide open to him, and, on 
June 14, 1690, he landed at Carrickfergus with reinforce- 
ments and supplies for his army in Ireland, and accom- 
panied by the Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, Prince George 
of Denmark, the Duke of Ormond, the Earls of Portland, 
Manchester, Oxford, and Scarborough ; General Mackay, 
General- Douglas, and many other warriors well known 

The People's History of Ireland 273 

to British and Continental fame. He established head- 
quarters at Belfast and caused a muster of all his forces, 
which showed him to be at the head of about 40,000 men, 
mostly veterans, and made up of contingents from Scan- 
dinavia, Holland, Switzerland, Brandenburg, England, 
Scotland, Ulster, together with the exiled Huguenot regi- 
ments of France and the Anglo-Irish battalions of the 
Pale. Allowing for detachments, William had under him 
an army of, at least, 36,000 effective men, officered by the 
best military talent of the period. 

James, according to all Irish and some British authori- 
ties, commanded a force of 17,000 Irish, of whom alone 
the cavalry, numbering, probably, from five to six thou- 
sand men, were considered thoroughly trained. In addi- 
tion, he had 6,000 well-appointed French infantry, under 
De Lauzun, which brought his total up to some 23,000 
men, with only twelve pieces of cannon. William, on the 
other hand, possessed a powerful and well-appointed artil- 
lery. Once again, James was advised not to oppose his 
comparatively weak and ill-disciplined army to an en- 
counter with the veteran host of William, and again the 
advantages of the defensive line of the Shannon were 
pointed out to him. But he would not listen to the voice 
of prudence, and marched northward to meet his rival, al- 
most immediately after learning of his debarkation at 
Carrickfergus. The Stuart army reached Dundalk about 
June 22, when William was reported to be at Newry. His 
scouts were soon seen on the neighboring heights, and the 
Franco-Irish forces fell back on the river Boyne, and took 
post on the southern bank, within a few miles of Drog- 
heda. The Irish camp was pitched immediately below the 
hill of Donore and near the small village of Oldbridge, in 

274 The People's History of Ireland 

the obtuse salient, pointing northwestward, formed by 
the second bend in the river in its course from Slane 
about six miles from Oldbridge to the sea. In the chart 
of the battle, published by the Rev. George Story, King 
William's chaplain, in 1693, three strong batteries are 
shown in front of the right of the Irish army, on the 
south bank of the Boyne, and one protecting its left op- 
posite to the point where the Mattock rivulet falls into 
the main river. But no Irish account mentions these bat- 
teries. Some critics have thought it strange that the 
Williamites, instead of making a long and tedious move- 
ment by Slane, did not endeavor to attack both sides of 
the river salient at once, and thus place the Irish army 
between two fires. The water, apparently, was no deeper 
above than below the rivulet, but even were it deeper, Wil- 
liam had with him a well-appointed bridge train, and 
the feeble battery, if any existed at all, would be insuffi- 
cient to check the ardor of his chosen veterans. On the 
summit of Donore Hill, which slopes backward for more 
than a mile from the river, stood a little church, with a 
graveyard and some huts beside it. Even in 1690, it was 
an insignificant ruin, but it is noted in Anglo-Irish history 
as marking the headquarters of King James during the 
operations on the Boyne. 

The right wing of the Irish army extended itself to- 
ward that smaller part of Drogheda which is situated on 
the south bank of the river, in the County Meath. The 
centre faced the fords in front of Oldbridge, where several 
small shoals, or islands, as marked in Story's map, ren- 
dered the passage of an attacking force comparatively 
easy of accomplishment. The left wing stretched in the 
direction of Slane, where there was a bridge, and, nearer 

The People's History of Ireland 275 

to the Irish army, a ford practicable for cavalry. James 
was urged to strengthen this wing of his army, sure to be 
attacked, the day before the battle, but he could only be 
induced to send out some cavalry patrols to observe the 
ground. When the tide, which backs the water up from 
below Drogheda, is out, many points on the river in front 
of the Irish position are easily fordable, and there has 
been little or no change in the volume of the current dur- 
ing the last two centuries. Therefore, the Boyne pre- 
sented no such formidable obstacle to a successful cross- 
ing as some imaginative historians have sought to make 
out. Neither did nature, in other respects, particularly 
favor the Irish in the choice of their ground. Their army 
occupied a fairly good defensive position, if its advantages 
had been properly utilized. King James interfered with 
the plans of his generals, as it was his habit to interfere 
in every department of his government, not at all to the 
advantage of the public service. An able general, such 
as William or Schomberg was, might have made the Irish 
ground secure; that is, with sufficient cannon to answer 
the formidable park brought into action by the enemy. 
The Irish army was in position on June 29, and on the 
following day, King William, accompanied by his staff 
and escort, appeared on the opposite heights. His main 
army was concealed behind the hills in the depression now 
known as King William's Glen. With his customary 
daring activity, the astute Hollander immediately pro- 
ceeded to reconnoitre the Jacobite position, of which he 
obtained a good view, though some of the regiments were 
screened by the irregularities of the ground. Although 
within easy range of the Irish lines, he was not molested 
for some time. Having concluded his observations, Wil- 

276 The People's History of Ireland 

Ham, with his officers, dismounted. Lunch was spread 
on the grass by the attendants, and the party proceeded to 
regale themselves. They were allowed to finish in peace, 
but when they remounted and turned toward their camp, 
the report of a field-piece came from the Irish side. A 
round shot ricochetted and killed a member of the escort. 
A second ball caught the king upon the shoulder, tore his 
coat and broke the skin beneath it. He fell forward on 
his horse, but immediately recovered himself, and the 
entire party rode rapidly out of range. The Irish officers, 
who had observed the confusion caused by the second 
shot, imagined that William had been killed. The news 
was circulated in the camp, speedily traveled to Dublin, 
and soon found its way to Great Britain and the Conti- 
nent. But William was not dead. After the sur- 
geons had dressed his wound, he insisted on again 
mounting his horse, and, like Napoleon when he was 
wounded in front of Ratisbon, in 1809, showed himself 
to the army, whose shouts of joy speedily informed the 
Irish troops that their able enemy was still in the saddle. 
A brisk cannonade, which did but little damage, was then 
exchanged between the two armies. It was the noisy pre- 
lude of a much more eventful drama. On the morrow 
was to be decided the fate not alone of the ancient Stuart 
dynasty, but also of Ireland, with all Europe for wit- 
nesses. Night put an end to the artillery duel, and the 
hostile hosts, except the sentinels, disposed themselves 
to sleep. History fails to record the watchward of King 
James's army, but Chaplain Story is authority for the 
statement that the word in William's camp was "West- 
minster." The soldiers on both sides, to use the military 
phrase, "slept upon their arms." 

The People's History of Ireland 277 


Battle of the Boyne Death of Marshal Schomberg Valor of Irish 
Cavalry Inexcusable Flight of King James 

r "PUESDAY morning, July i, old style, dawned beau- 
1 tifully on the river Boyne. Both of the royal hosts 
were drawn out in all their bravery, and the early sun 
glittered on their burnished arms. We have no good 
account of their uniforms, but, judging by prints of the 
period, the British, in general, wore scarlet and the Con- 
tiental allies blue. Some of the French regiments allied 
to the Irish army wore white and others blue coats, which 
were the favorite colors of the Bourbon kings. The 
Irish army must surely have worn scarlet the livery of 
the House of Stuart because, we are informed by 
George Story and other historians, they bore white 
badges in their hats, to distinguish themselves from the 
Williamites, who wore green boughs in theirs. The 
white cockade, or rosette, was the emblem of the Dukes 
of York a title borne by James, as will be remembered, 
before his accession. The irony of fate, surely, was 
made manifest by the circumstance of William's soldiers 
wearing Ireland's national color, as now generally rec- 
ognized, on the occasion of her most fateful, although 
not bloodiest, defeat. 

At 6 o'clock A.M., William took the initiative by order- 
ing above 10,000 horse and foot, under General Douglas, 
Schomberg, Jr., and Lords Portland and Overkirk, to 
march along the river bank toward Slane, cross at, or 
near, that point, and so turn the left flank of the Irish 

278 The People's History of Ireland 

army. This manoeuvre was plainly seen and understood 
by James and his lieutenants. Sir Neal O'Neill, at the 
head of his dragoons, was detached to check the move- 
ment. The brave leader was in time to charge the ene- 
my's cavalry, which had crossed nearer to Oldbridge 
than was originally designed, as they had found a prac- 
ticable ford. The main body crossed higher up, at 
Slane. O'Neill, according to all accounts of the engage- 
ment on this flank of the Jacobite army, must have made 
a most gallant fight, because it was well on toward 9 
o'clock before the enemy was able to secure a footing 
on the Irish bank of the Boyne, and then only after the 
brave O'Neill had been mortally wounded, and his sur- 
viving soldiers discouraged by his fall. Notwithstand- 
ing, the Irish dragoons drew off the field in excellent 
order, bearing their dying general along with them. 
With his latest breath, O'Neill sent word to King James 
of how matters stood on his left wing, to which Douglas's 
whole imposing force had now formed itself perpen- 
dicularly, that is, at right angles, threatening not alone 
the left of the Irish line of battle, but also the rear, or 
line of retreat, on the pass of Duleek, which was the 
gateway to Dublin. James, observing this, became de- 
moralized. Instead of using the French veterans at 
Oldbridge ford, where he must have seen the main attack 
was to be delivered, he placed in the hedges, and other 
defences which covered it, untried Irish levies, badly 
weaponed, brave enough, it is true, but at absolute dis- 
advantage when placed in opposition to the splendid arma- 
ment and perfect discipline of William's veterans, many 
of whom had been in a score of pitched battles. Lauzun 
and his French were sent toward the Irish left, accom- 

The People's History of Ireland 279 

panied by Sarsfield, with a weak squadron of horse. 
But Douglas had formed his troops in such strong array 
that Lauzun, in spite of the direct orders of King James, 
declined to attack him, or receive his attack. Instead, 
he manoeuvred so as to place a morass between his troops 
and the enemy, and then began falling back on the pass 
of Duleek, fearing to be outflanked and cut off by young 
Schomberg's powerful cavalry. Sarsfield, according to 
his custom, charged the hostile horse boldly, but his men 
were too few, and he was reluctantly compelled to follow 
the retrograde movement of the French. In this opera- 
tion he lost one cannon, which got stuck in the mud of 
a bog that intervened between the river and Donore. At 
the latter point he rejoined the king. James seemed to 
think only of his line of retreat. Had he thought of his 
line of advance, everything might still have been recti- 
fied. His army remained unshaken, except by his own 
wretched fears. The dread of being made a prisoner 
was his bane. He had sent most of the baggage and half 
the cannon toward Dublin at the first news of the reverse 
at Slane a remarkable way by which to raise the spirits 
of an army already sadly conscious of the incompetency 
of its royal commander, and its own inferiority to the 
Williamite host in everything but ardent zeal and knightly 

William, on learning of the success of his right wing, 
immediately ordered Marshal Schomberg, at the head of 
the formidable Dutch guards, two regiments of Hugue- 
nots, two of Inniskilleners, Sir John Hammer's regi- 
ment, and several others on that front, including the 
Danes, to ford the Boyne in hot haste. They plunged 
in bravely, opposite to Oldbridge, and so dense were 

Ireland 13 VoL L 

280 The People's History of Ireland 

their columns, according to Chaplain Story, that the 
water rose perceptibly. Still it could not have risen 
much above the knees of the shortest soldier, for the 
historian, Haverty a scrupulous writer says, in his 
admirable work, that the water did not reach to the 
drums of the bands that accompanied the attack. The 
unseasoned Irish dragoons and infantry, armed with 
old fusils and half-pikes, received the enemy with a hasty 
and ill-directed fire, which did little damage. William's 
troops replied with overpowering volleys, and his bat- 
teries threw balls into the defences. It would seem that 
little was done at this point to rally the defenders, for 
they soon broke and abandoned the hedges, but formed 
again in the lanes of Oldbridge and the fields in its vicin- 
ity. The shout of triumph from Schomberg's men was 
answered by a roar of anger that seemed to come from 
the battle-clouds above the river. There was a sound 
as of many waters, a terrific crashing of hoofs, a flashing 
of sabres, dying groans Richard Hamilton, at the head 
of the superb Irish cavalry, was among the Williamite 
regiments, dealing death-strokes right and left. Even 
the Dutch Blues reeled before the shock the Danes and 
Huguenots were broken and driven back across the 
stream. Old Duke Schomberg, in trying to restore order, 
was killed near the Irish side of the river, and there, too, 
fell Caillemotte, the Huguenot hero, and Bishop Walker, 
the defender of Derry. It was a splendid charge, and, 
had it been sustained by the whole Irish army, might 
have saved the day. But King James's eyes were not 
turned toward Oldbridge ford, but to the pass of Duleek. 
Fresh bodies of hostile infantry continued to cross the 
stream, and were charged and driven back several times 

The People's History of Ireland 281 

by the Irish horse. This part of the battle began about 
10.15 o'clock and continued until nearly noon. 

King William now took a hand in the fight, and crossed 
with most of his cavalry nearer to Drogheda. It is said 
that the tide had risen so high, he was obliged to swim 
his horse, which, also, got "bogged" on the Irish bank, 
and was extricated with difficulty. When the animal 
was freed, William remounted, and, although his shoulder 
was still stiff and sore from contact with the cannon-ball 
on the previous day, he drew his sword and placed him- 
self at the head of such of his horse as had crossed with 
him. He also rallied some foot-soldiers who had been 
scattered by Hamilton's furious charges. Nor were these 
yet over. Hardly had William placed his men in order, 
when Hamilton came down again, with a whirlwind rush, 
and Chaplain Story says, with great simplicity: "Our 
horse were forced to give ground, although the king was 
with them !" William, on recovering his breath, observed 
the Inniskillen regiment of cavalry at a short distance, 
rode up in front of them and said, in his blunt fashion: 
"What will you do for me?" They answered with a 
cheer, and rode to meet the Irish cavalry, who were again 
coming on at a fierce gallop, urged by Hamilton. The 
shock was terrible, but again the presence and the leader- 
ship of the warlike William proved unavailing, and the 
Inniskilleners, sadly cut up, followed the routed Wil- 
liamite ruck down the hill toward the river. Cool in the 
moment of danger, William of Orange retired slowly 
and managed to rally some foot and horse to his assist- 
ance. By this time more of his cavalry had crossed, 
under Ruvigny and Ginkel. The former captured some 
colors, according to Story, but Ginkel's force was routed 

282 The People's History of Ireland 

and he, himself, did not conceal his vexation at their 
want of firmness. He kept in their rear, in order to pre- 
vent them from bolting at sight of the Irish horse. 

King James was urged by all of those about him who 
had regard for his honor, including the brave General 
Sheldon and the ever gallant Sarsfield, to place himself 
at the head of his reserve of cavalry and charge full upon 
William as he ascended toward Donore. The unfortu- 
nate man, more of a moral than a physical coward, seemed 
unable to collect his faculties ; and, instead of doing what 
became him, yielded to the advice of the timid, and, even 
while the battle raged hotly below him, turned his horse, 
and, accompanied by his disgusted officers and astonished 
troopers, rode toward the pass of Duleek, held by the 
French and some of the Irish, who repulsed every effort 
of General Douglas to force it. Hamilton's cavalry still 
continued to charge the Williamite advance, and thus en- 
abled the Irish infantry to retire slowly on Donore, where 
the bold Duke of Berwick rallied them and presented an 
unbroken front to King William. Then, in turn, they 
retired toward Duleek. Hamilton made a final furious 
charge, in which his horse was killed and fell upon him. 
He was also wounded in the head and made prisoner. 
He was taken before William, who said: "Well, sir, is 
this business over with, or will your horse show more 
fight?" Hamilton responded: "Upon my honor, sir, I 
think they will." The king, who was incensed against 
the general for having sided with James and Tyrconnel 
against himself, looked askance at the gallant prisoner 
and muttered: "Your honor! Your honor!" And this 
was all that passed between them. 

Chaplain Story, from whose book we have taken many 

The People's History of Ireland 283 

of our facts, was a most graphic and interesting writer, 
but a sad hater of the Irish, against whom he seems to 
have borne a grudge, perhaps because they killed his 
brother, an English officer, in action. He never said a 
good word for them if he could avoid doing so. Yet, in 
spite of this failing, the truth would escape him occasion- 
ally. Many English writers leave the impression that 
the Irish army was defeated at the Boyne within an hour 
or so after the engagement began. We have seen that 
the first movement was made about daylight, and that 
the battle near Slane opened about 8 o'clock. In front 
of Oldbridge the attack was made at 10 115, and continued 
hotly until nearly noon, when King William himself took 
command, crossed the river with his left wing and was 
bravely checked by Hamilton. Duleek is not more than 
three miles from the fords of Oldbridge. Therefore, the 
Irish must have fought very obstinately when Chaplain 
Story makes the following admission on page 23 of his 
"Continuation of the Wars of Ireland" : "Our army then 
pressed hard upon them, but meeting with a great many 
difficulties in the ground, and being obliged to pursue 
in order, our horse had only the opportunity of cutting 
down some of their foot, and most of the rest got over 
the pass at Duleek ; then night coming on* prevented us 
from making so entire a victory of it as could have been 
wished for." Thus, on the testimony of this Williamite 
partisan and eye-witness, the battle of the Boyne, 
counting from its inception to its close, lasted about fif- 
teen hours. Evidently the overpowered Irish army did 
not retreat very fast. 

* In Ireland, at that season, there is a strong twilight until nearly 
9 o'clock. Author. 

284 The People's History of Ireland 

We have already mentioned the principal men who 
fell on the Williamite side. On the Jacobite side there 
fell Lords Dungan and Carlingford, Sir Neal O'Neill 
and some other officers of note, together with some 1,200 
rank and file killed or wounded. Few prisoners were 
taken. Mr. Story, as usual, underestimates William's 
loss, when he places it at "nigh four hundred." More 
candid English estimates place it at nearer a thousand, 
and this was, probably, the true figure. The Chaplain, 
in dwelling on the casualties, says plaintively : "The loss 
of Duke Schomberg, who was killed soon after the first 
of our forces passed the river near Oldbridge, was much 
more considerable than all that fell that day on both 

Drogheda, occupied by an Irish garrison of 1,500 men, 
surrendered, on summons, the day after the battle. Had 
their commander made a spirited sortie on William's 
left wing, as it was crossing the river, good might have 
resulted for the cause of James. It would seem that, 
like himself, many of his officers lacked the daring en- 
terprise that can alone win the smiles of Bellona. 

King James, shamefully for himself, deserted the bat- 
tlefield, or, rather, the outer edge of it, before the fight 
at the fords was over. An Irish Protestant poet, the late 
Dr. W. R. Wilde, of Dublin, says of the incident : 

"But where is James? What! urged to fly, 

Ere quailed his brave defenders! 
Their dead in Oldbridge crowded lie, 
But not a sword surrenders !" 

He reached Dublin at 9 o'clock that evening, while still 
the Irish army exchanged shots with William's troops 
across the Nannywater at the pass of Duleek ! Tradition 

The People's History of Ireland 285 

says that, meeting Lady Tyrconnel at the Cas.tle, he ex- 
claimed : "Your countrymen run well, madam !" The 
spirited Irishwoman at once replied : "I congratulate 
your Majesty on having won the race !" 

English historians, in general, taking their cue from 
Story, are ungenerous to the Irish in connection with the 
Boyne. English troops had comparatively little hand in 
obtaining the victory. The French writers, also, in or- 
der to screen the misconduct, and possibly treason, of De 
Lauzun, seek to throw all the blame for the loss of the 
battle on their Irish allies. Not so, many of the Irish 
Protestant writers, whose coreligionists bore a great deal 
of the brunt of the fighting on William's side, and were 
thus enabled to know the truth. Among those writers 
may be mentioned Colonel William Blacker, poet-laureate 
of the Orange Order in Ireland, who wrote at the begin- 
ning of the last century, and, in his poem, "The Battle of 
the Boyne," gives full credit to his Catholic fellow-coun- 
trymen for their valor, thus: 

"In vain the sword Green Erin draws_ and life away doth fling 
Oh ! worthy of a better cause and of a braver king ! 
In vain thy bearing bold is shown upon that blood-stained ground; 
Thy towering hopes are overthrown thy choicest fall around. 

"Hurrah ! hurrah ! the victor shout is heard on high Donore ! 
Down Plottin's Vale, in hurried rout, thy shattered masses pour. 
But many a gallant spirit there retreats across the plain, 
Who 'change but kings' would gladly dare that battlefield again !" 

The expression, in regard to exchanging monarchs, 
alluded to in the ballad, is founded on a saying attribu- 
ted to Sarsfield, who. on being taunted by a British officer 
at the Duleek outposts the night of the engagement, ex- 
claimed: "Change kings with us, and we will fight the 
battle over again with you!" 

286 The People's History of Ireland 

James, after his defeat, remained but one day in Dub- 
lin. He summoned the State Council and the Lord 
Mayor, bade them farewell, and left the government of 
the kingdom and the command of the army in the hands 
of Tyrconnel. Then, accompanied by a small staff, he 
rode to Bray and thence by easy stages to Waterford, 
where he embarked for France and reached that kingdom 
in safety. He was generously received by King Louis. 
In justice to a monarch who is alleged to have spoken 
harshly and unjustly of his Irish troops and subjects 
after the battle of the Boyne, we must state that his pub- 
lished Memoirs, as also those of his son, the heroic Duke 
of Berwick, bear the very highest testimony to the brav- 
ery and devotion of the Irish army, particularly in deal- 
ing with the closing campaign in Ireland, when it crowned 
itself with glory. Remembering this, we may join with 
the poet in saying 

"Well, honored be the graves that close 

O'er every brave and true heart, 
And sorrows sanctified repose 
Thy dust, discrowned Stuart !" 


Irish Army Retires on "The Line of the Shannon" Douglas Re- 
pulsed at Athlone King William Begins Siege of Limerick 
Sarsfield's Exploit 

TYRCONNEL, Sarsfield, Berwick, De Lauzun, and 
their forces immediately evacuated Dublin and its 
neighborhood, and, practically, gave up all of Leinster 
to the enemy, while they retired on the Shannon and 
heavily garrisoned Athlone, Limerick, and Galway the 
latter a most important seaport at that time. The flight 

The People's History of Ireland 287 

of James demoralized Tyrconnel, who was aging fast, 
and further discontented Lauzun, but Sarsfield and Ber- 
wick remained steadfast, and were determined not to give 
up Ireland without a bitter and bloody struggle. Most 
of the officers agreed with them. If they had lost a king, 
their country still remained, and they would defend it to 
the last. 

William's first attempt was made against Athlone. 
which is the most central fortified place in Ireland, situ 
ated masterfully on the river Shannon, the commerce of 
which it commands for many miles. The garrison was 
commanded by an aged veteran of the Confederate war, 
Colonel Richard Grace, to whom fear was unknown. 
General Douglas, with 12,000 men and a fine battering 
train, including several mortars, was detached from the 
Williamite army at Dublin to attack the town. He ap- 
peared before it on July 17, and sent an offensive mes- 
sage for immediate surrender to the governor. Colonel 
Grace discharged a pistol over the head of the startled 
envoy, and said : "That is my answer !" The siege began 
when the messenger returned. Athlone, divided by the 
Shannon, is partly in Westmeath and partly in Roscom- 
mon. The latter portion alone was defensible. Colonel 
Grace abandoned the Leinster side, called "Englishtown," 
after leveling the works. He also destroyed the bridge, 
thus confining himself to "Irishtown," where still stands 
the strong castle. Douglas bombarded it furiously. 
Grace responded fiercely and honors were about even, 
when news arrived in the English camp that Sarsfield, at 
the head of a powerful Irish force, was en route from 
Limerick to raise the siege. For seven days the English 
general rained balls and bombshells on Athlone, but, on 

288 The People's History of Ireland 

the seventh day, the indomitable Grace hung out a red 
flag on the castle, to indicate that the fight was to be to 
a finish, and that quarter would be neither taken nor 
given. The English doubled their efforts to subdue the 
place, but made no impression. Finally Douglas, in ab- 
ject fear of Sarsfield, raised the siege and left the town 
amid the cheers of the defenders of the Connaught side. 
The garrison and people gave Governor Grace an ova- 
tion, which, indeed, no warrior, young or old, better 

King William reserved for himself, as he thought, the 
honor and pleasure of capturing Limerick, which, in the 
days of Ireton, had won celebrity by the obstinacy of its 
defence. Toward the end of July, 1690, he marched 
from the capital, at the head of his main army, toward 
that fortress. He was joined by the defeated Douglas, 
with his depleted division, at Caherconlish, within a short 
distance of Limerick, on the 8th of August. This junc- 
tion brought his force up to 38,000 men, not to speak of 
a siege train and other warlike appliances. The Irish 
force consisted of 10,000 infantry within the city, and 
4,000 horse, encamped on the Clare side of the Shannon. 
There was, as at Athlone, an Irishtown and Englishtown 
the former situated on the Limerick side of the stream, 
and the latter on an island, called King's Island, formed 
by the two branches of the great river. In addition to 
an infantry force, some regiments of Irish dragoons, in- 
tended to fight either on foot or horseback, occupied En- 
glishtown. The defences were in a wretched condition. 
Lauzun, who seems to have been the wet blanket of the 
period, declared that "King Louis could take them with 
roasted apples." Tyrconnel and he were for surrender- 

The People's History of Ireland 289 

ing the city "on terms," but Sarsfield, ably seconded by 
the brave and youthful Duke of Berwick the best of the 
Stuarts made fierce protest. De Boisseleau, a French 
officer of engineers, who sympathized with the Irish peo- 
ple, became their ally, and agreed to reconstruct the 
works, with the aid of the soldiery and the citizens. De 
Lauzun, eager to return to the delights of Paris, aban- 
doned the city and marched with his French contingent 
to Galway. It would appear, from contemporaneous ac- 
counts, that his troops were not all native Frenchmen. 
Many were Swiss and German a kind of Foreign Le- 
gion in the French service. Louvois, the elder, at that 
time Louis's Minister of War, detested Lauzun King 
James's appointee and would not give him a corps of 
choice troops. The Swiss and Germans were coura- 
geous soldiers, but their hearts were not in the cause they 
were engaged in, and many of them deserted to the 
Williamites after the battle of the Boyne. Lauzun re- 
mained in Galway until he heard of King William's un- 
successful attempt on Limerick, when he and his forces 
sailed for France, the old Duke of Tyrconnel accompany- 
ing them. The Duke, on reaching Paris, made charges 
of insubordination and general misconduct against Lau- 
zun, who, thereby, lost the favor of the French monarch. 
His downfall followed, and, in after years, he was one 
of the unfortunates doomed to captivity in the Bastile. 
He deserves no sympathy, as his whole conduct in Ire- 
land made him more than suspected of having been a 

John C. O'Callaghan, the noted historian of the Wil- 
liamite wars, in his "Green Book," written in refutation 
of Voltaire, Lord Macaulay, and other libelers of the 

290 The People's History of Ireland 

Irish nation, says that the Louvois, father and son, who 
held in succession the portfolio of war in France, during 
the time when James was struggling to regain his crown, 
were inimical to his cause, and did all they could to 
thwart the friendly efforts of King Louis in his behalf. 
Louvois, Sr., it is explained, wished the command of the 
French troops sent to Ireland conferred upon his son; 
but James preferred Lauzun. Thus originated the feud 
which, no doubt, led to the utter ruin of the Stuart 
dynasty. The hostility of the Louvois also explains the 
miserable quality of the arms, equipments, and clothing 
sent by the French Government to Ireland. How fatal 
a choice James made in preferring Lauzun has already ap- 
peared. By universal consent, De Boisseleau was made 
military governor of Limerick. Berwick, in the absence 
of Tyrconnel, was recognized as commander-in-chief, 
mainly because of his kinship with the king, while the 
able and trusty Sarsfield was second in command, and, 
as will be seen, did the lion's share of the fighting. 
King William, with his formidable army, arrived within 
sight of Limerick and "sat down before it" on August 9, 
confining his attentions mostly to the southern defences 
of Irishtown, which appeared to offer the most favorable 
point of assault. Although he had with him a powerful 
artillery, he did not hope to reduce the city without a 
further supply of heavy ordnance. Before leaving the 
Irish capital, he had ordered a great siege train to be 
put in readiness, so that it might reach him about the 
time he would be ready to begin the investment of Lim- 
erick. He knew, therefore, that it was near at hand. 
But another soldier, even bolder than himself, knew also 
of the close approach of the siege train from Dublin, and 

The People's History of Ireland 291 

that it was escorted by a strong cavalry force. This 
was Sarsfield, who, at the head of five hundred chosen 
horse, left the camp on the Clare side of the river on 
Sunday night, August 10, rode along the right bank 
toward Killaloe, and, near that town, crossed into the 
County Tipperary by a deep and dangerous ford, seldom 
used and never guarded. He chose it in preference to 
the bridge at Killaloe, because the utmost secrecy had 
to be preserved, so that the Williamites might have no 
information of his design to intercept the train. His 
guide was a captain of irregular horse called Rap- 
parees and he bore the sobriquet of "Galloping O'Ho- 
gan." Dawn found the adventurous force in the neigh- 
borhood of the picturesque village of Silvermines, at the 
foot of the Keeper Mountain. In the deep glen, which 
runs along its eastern base, Sarsfield concealed his party 
all day of the nth; but sent his scouts, under O'Hogan, 
southward toward the County Limerick border, to locate 
the siege train. The peasantry of the locality still point 
out the exact spot where the Irish general awaited im- 
patiently, and anxiously, news from the scouts. The 
horses were kept saddled up, ready for immediate action, 
and, while they grazed, the men held their bridle-reins. 
Pickets were posted behind the crests of every vantage 
point, to prevent surprise, because the patrols of King 
William's army were ceaseless in their vigilance and 
might come upon the bold raiders at any moment. The 
scouts returned at nightfall and reported that the siege 
train and its escort had gone into camp near the castle 
of Ballyneety, about two miles from the village of Cul- 
len, in the County Limerick, and twelve miles, by English 
measurement, in rear of the Williamite army. Sarsfield 

292 The People's History of Ireland 

immediately put his troops in motion, and, after a labori- 
ous journey, reached the neighborhood of the rock and 
ruined castle of Ballyneety some hours before daybreak. 
The convoy, thinking itself secure, kept a careless look- 
out, and, besides, Sarsfield, in some mysterious manner, 
secured the password, which happened to be his own 
name. Tradition of the neighborhood says that, as he 
approached the camp, the noise of the horses' hoofs 
startled one of the English sentinels, who, immediately, 
leveled his piece at the Irish leader, and demanded the 
password. "Sarsfield is the word!" replied the general, 
"and Sarsfield is the man !" Before the sentry could fire 
off his musket, he was cloven down, and, at a fierce gal- 
lop, the Irish horse fell upon the sleeping escort, nearly 
all of whom were sabred on the spot. The captured 
cannon, charged with powder to their full extent, were 
placed, muzzle downward, over a mine filled with the 
same explosive, and the tin boats of a pontoon train, 
which was also bound for William's camp, were piled 
up near them. The Irish force, humanely taking the 
English wounded with them, drew away to witness the 
result of the coming explosion with greater security. 
Soon all was ready; the train was ignited, and cannon 
and pontoons were blown into the sky. The report was 
heard and the shock felt for twenty miles around, and 
startled even the phlegmatic King William in his tent. 
He divined at once, with military sagacity, what had 
taken place. There was no mistaking it. Already, on 
the information of an Irish Williamite, named Manus 
O'Brien, who had accidentally encountered Sarsfield's 
cavalcade on the Clare side, the king had sent Sir John 
Lanier, with five hundred dragoons, to the rescue. Sars- 

The People's History of Ireland 293 

field eluded the latter and got back to his camp, recross- 
ing the Shannon much higher up than Killaloe, without 
the loss of a man. When the news was confirmed to 
King William, by General Lanier, he said, simply, "It 
was a bold movement. I did not think Sarsfield capable 
of it." Some authors affirm that Sarsfield himself said 
to a wounded English officer, whom he had captured, 
"If this enterprise had failed, I should have gone to 
France." He. was destined to do other stout service for 
Ireland before he finally shed his life-blood for the French 
lilies on a Belgian battlefield. 

294 The People's History of Ireland 


William's Assault on Limerick Repulsed with Slaughter Heroism 
of the Irish Women Irish Humanity to the English Wounded 

WILLIAM was not discouraged by the loss of his 
siege material. He found that two of the cannon 
captured by Sarsfield had failed to explode. Some heavy 
pieces, with mortars, also reached him, within a few 
days, from Waterford, and these, with the ordnance he 
had brought with him from Dublin, made a formidable 
array of breach-producing engines. The siege, accord- 
ingly, was vigorously pressed, as against the Irishtown 
and King's Island, but hardly any demonstration was 
made against the Clare section, connected with Limerick 
by Thomond bridge, probably because of the loss of the 
pontoon train. 

The Irish soldiery and the citizens of Limerick, encour- 
aged by De Boisseleau, Berwick, and Sarsfield, had made 
considerable improvement in the defences of Limerick 
before William came up, and, even after his arrival, con- 
tinued to repair the breaches made in the walls by his 
cannon. Their batteries vigorously replied to those of 
the enemy, although much inferior in number and weight 
of metal, and the Williamites suffered quite heavy losses 
in officers and rank and file. The Irish leaders had sent 
many non-combatants to the safer side of the Shannon, 
but most of the women refused to leave and worked at 
the earthworks like the men. Many of them were killed 
by the English fire while so occupied. 

At last, on the morning of August 27, the Williamite 

The People's History of Ireland 295 

engineers declared the breach in the neighborhood of St. 
John's Gate and the Black Battery on the south side of 
the town practicable. Some authorities say it was twelve 
yards wide, and others, including Thomas Davis, one of 
Ireland's most accurate writers, six perches, which would 
make quite a difference. Five hundred British grena- 
diers, drawn from the right flank companies of the line 
regiments, as was then and for long afterward the cus- 
tom, constituted the forlorn hope. Their immediate re- 
serves were a battalion of the Blue Dutch Guards the 
heroes of the Boyne and the regiments of Douglas, Stu- 
art, Meath, Lisburn, and Brandenburg. The whole 
army stood ready to support these picked trocps. The 
signal, three cannon shots, was given from Cromwell's 
Fort, where William witnessed the operation, at 3.30 P.M. 
Story tells us the day was torrid. The orders to the 
stormers were to seize the Irish counterscarp the exte- 
rior slope of the ditch and maintain it. The assault was 
delivered with great spirit, the grenadiers leaping out of 
their trenches, advancing at a run, firing their pieces and 
throwing their hand grenades among the Irish in the 
works. The attack was fierce and sudden almost in the 
nature of a surprise but the Irish met it boldly, for, 
says Chaplain Story, in his thrilling narrative of the 
event, "they had their guns all ready and discharged great 
and small shot on us as fast as 'twas possible. Our men 
were not behind them in either, so that, in less than two 
minutes, the noise was so terrible that one would have 
thought the very skies ready to rent in sunder. This was 
seconded with dust, smoke, and all the terrors the art of 
man could invent to ruin and undo one another; and, to 
make it more uneasie, the day itself was so excessive hot 

296 The People's History of Ireland 

to the bystanders, and much more, sure, in all re- 
spects to those upon action. Captain Carlile, of my Lord 
Drogheda's regiment, ran on with his grenadiers to the 
counterscarp, and tho' he received two wounds between 
that and the trenches, yet he went forward and com- 
manded his men to throw in their grenades, but in the 
leaping into the dry ditch below the counterscarp an 
Irishman below shot him dead. Lieutenant Barton, how- 
ever, encouraged the men and they got upon the counter- 
scarp, and all the rest of the grenadiers were as ready 
as they." 

It would seem that, at this point of the attack, 
some of the Irish soldiers began to draw off and 
made for the breach, which the Williamites entered 
with them. Half of the Drogheda regiment and 
some others actually got into the town. The city 
seemed nearly won, as the supports came up promptly to 
the assistance of their comrades. But the Irish troops 
rallied immediately and fell vehemently on their pur- 
suers. These, in their turn, retreated from the breach, 
"but some were shot, some were taken, and some came 
out again, but very few without being wounded." The 
Williamite chaplain thus describes the outcome, still pre- 
serving his tone of contemptuous hatred of the brave 
Irish soldiery: "The Irish then ventured (sic} upon the 
breach again, and from the walls and every place so 
pestered us upon the counterscarp, that after nigh three 
hours resisting bullets, stones (broken bottles from the 
very women, who boldly stood in the breach and were 
nearer our men than their own), and whatever ways 
could be thought on to destroy us, our ammunition being 
spent, it was judged safest to return to our trenches! 

The People's History of Ireland 297 

When the work was at the hottest, the Brandenburg 
regiment (who behaved themselves very well) were got 
upon the Black Battery, where the enemies' powder hap- 
pened to take fire and blew up a great many of them, the 
men, fagots, stones, and what not flying into the air with 
a most terrible noise . . , From half an hour after 
three, until after seven, there was one continued fire of 
both great and small shot, without any intermission; in 
so much that the smoke that went from the town reached 
in one continued cloud to the top of a mountain [Keeper 
Hill, most likely] at least six miles off. When our men 
drew off, some were brought up dead, and some without 
a leg; others wanted arms, and some were blind with 
powder; especially a great many of the poor Branden- 
burgers looked like furies, with the misfortune of gun- 
powder . . . The king [William] stood nigh Crom- 
well's Fort all the time, and the business being over, he 
went to his camp very much concerned, as, indeed, was 
the whole army; for you might have seen a mixture of 
anger and sorrow in every bodie's countenance. The 
Irish had two small field-pieces planted in the King's Isl- 
and, which flankt their own counterscarp, and in our at- 
tack did us no small damage, as did, also, two guns more 
that they had planted within the town, opposite to the 
breach and charged with cartridge shot. 

"We lost, at kast, five hundred on the spot, and had 
a thousand more wounded, as I understood by the sur- 
geons of our hospitals, who are the properest judges. 
The Irish lost a great many by our cannon and other 
ways, but it can not be supposed that their loss should 
be equal to ours, since it is a much easier thing to defend 
walls than 'tis by plain strength to force people from 

298 The People's History of Ireland 

them, and one man within has the advantage of four 

Mr. Story acknowledges fifty-nine officers of the En- 
glish regiments engaged killed and wounded. Fifteen 
died upon the ground and several afterward of their in- 
juries. "The Grenadiers are not here included," con- 
tinues the English annalist, "and they had the hottest 
service ; nor are there any of the foreigners, who lost full 
as many as the English." 

We have quoted this English authority, prejudiced 
though he was, because the testimony of an eye-witness 
is much more valuable than the allegations of writers 
who give their information at second hand. We may 
add, however, that all Irish historians have declared that 
the Black Battery was mined for such an emergency as 
destroyed the Brandenburg regiment, and some of them 
assert that Sarsfield, in person, fired the mine. As he 
was the Ajax of the campaign, on the Irish side, it 
seems quite natural that every extraordinary feat of skill 
or valor should have been credited to him. His own 
merits made him the idol of his people, and he was 
farther endeared to them, as being the son of Anna 
O'More, daughter of the famous organizer of the Irish 
insurrection of 1641. On the paternal side, he was of 
Norman stock. His father had been a member of the 
Irish House of Commons, and was proscribed and exiled 
because he had sided with the patriots in the Parlia- 
mentary wars. General Sarsfield the rank he held at 
the first siege of Limerick had seen hot service on the 
Continent, during the early part of his career, and com- 
manded a regiment of th'e royal cavalry at the battle of 
Sedgemoor, where the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth 

1 he People's History of Ireland 299 

met with his fatal defeat at the hands of Lord Fever- 
sham. In stature, he was tall considerably over six 
feet fair and strikingly handsome. His flowing wig 
in the queer fashion of the period fell in massive ring- 
lets over the corselet of a cuirassier, and, in the rush of 
battle, he must have been the counterpart of Murat, Na- 
poleon's "Emperor of Dragoons." Irish poets have called 
him "headlong Sarsfield." "Long-headed Sarsfield" would 
have been a better sobriquet, for, had his advice been 
taken by his royal master and the generals sent by the 
latter to command over him, Ireland would never have 
bowed her head to the yoke of William. Even the most 
envenomed of English historians against the adherents 
of King James including Lord Macaulay do ample 
justice to the courage, talents, and virtues of Patrick 

The heroic women of Limerick, who fought and bled 
in the breach, are complimented by Chaplain Story, as 
we have seen, at the expense of their countrymen, but 
the glorious military record of the Irish race in the wars 
of Europe and of this continent, since that period, would 
make any defence of the conduct of the heroes of Lim- 
erick-breach superfluous. The women, too, deserve im- 
mortal honor; because, in defence of their country and 
hearthstones, they dared the storm of war, and "stalked 
with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to tread." 

The Irish loss in killed and wounded was about four 
hundred. Many lives, on both sides, were lost by sick- 
ness dysentery and enteric fever chiefly during this 
siege. A conservative estimate places William's loss, 
by wounds and sickness, at 5,000, and the Irish at 3,000. 

The day after his bloody repulse, King William sent a 

300 The People's History of Ireland 

flag of truce to De Boisseleau asking the privilege of 
burying his dead. After consultation with Berwick and 
Sarsfield, the French governor refused the request, as he 
suspected a ruse of some kind behind it. All the dead 
were buried by the Irish as quickly as possible, because 
the heat was intense, and, aside from feelings of human- 
ity, they dreaded a plague from the decomposition of the 
corpses left above ground. We are informed by the late 
Mr. A. M. Sullivan, M.P., in his admirable "Story of 
Ireland," that, during the pursuit by the Irish of King 
William's men from the breach to their trenches, the 
temporary hospital established by the king for his 
wounded caught fire. The Irish troops immediately 
paused in their fierce pursuit, and devoted themselves to 
saving their helpless foes in the hospital, who, otherwise, 
must have perished miserably in the flames. 

King William, after carefully considering the situa- 
tion, and taking counsel with his chief officers, decided 
that there was no hope of capturing Limerick that year. 
Therefore, he declared the siege raised that is, aban- 
doned and, on August 3Oth, the entire Williamite army 
drew off from before Limerick, posting strong rear- 
guards at points of vantage, so as to baffle pursuit. The 
king, leaving Baron De Ginkel in command, retired to 
Waterford. There he embarked for England, bidding 
Ireland what proved to be an eternal farewell. Although 
this gloomy monarch was not quite as ferocious as some 
of -his .contemporaries, and was a marked improvement 
on Cromwell, Ireton, and Ludlow in Ireland, he is 
charged, by careful Irish historians like McGee, O'Cal- 
laghan, and Sullivan with having, like his lieutenant, 
General Douglas, permitted many outrages on the peo- 

The People's History of Ireland 301 

pie, both in person and property, on his march from 
Dublin to Limerick. Making due allowance for the diffi- 
culty of restraining a mercenary army, filled with hatred 
of the people they moved among, from committing ex- 
cesses, it is regrettable that the martial renown of William 
of Orange is sullied by this charge of cruelty in Ireland, 
as, afterward, in connection with the foul massacre of 
the Macdonalds of Glencoe in Scotland. Brave men are 
rarely cruel, but we fear, in these instances, William was 
an exception to the rule. 

The story of the first defence of Limerick, in the Wil- 
liamite war, reads like a chapter from a military romance, 
and yet it was, indeed, a stern and bloody reality. It 
was, in truth, a magnificent defence against a powerful 
foe, not surpassed even by that of Saragossa against the 
French. Limerick, like Saragossa, was defended by the 
citizens, men and women, quite as much as by the sol- 
diery. All took equal risks, as in the case of London- 
derry. The latter was also a brilliant defence more, 
however, in the matter of splendid endurance than in 
hand-to-hand conflict. Londonderry wears the crown 
for fortitude and tenacity Limerick and Saragossa for 
heroic prowess and matchless courage. 

302 The People's History of Ireland 


Fall of Cork and Kinsale Lauzun, the French General, Accused by 

Irish Writers Sarsfield's Popularity Tyrconnel Returns 

to Ireland Berwick Departs 

THE successful defence of Limerick by the Irish was 
somewhat offset in the following month of Septem- 
ber by the victorious expedition from England, against 
Cork and Kinsale, led by John Churchill, afterward 
Duke of Marlborough, the greatest general of that age. 
Cork, under the military governor, McEligott, defended 
itself vigorously during a siege of five days, but the de- 
fences and garrison were both weak, and, eventually, the 
city capitulated on honorable conditions. These were 
subsequently violated by some soldiers and camp-follow- 
ers of the English army, but Marlborough suppressed, in 
as far as he could, the disorders as soon as he heard of 
them. The English lost the Duke of Grafton natural 
son of Charles II and many other officers and private 
men during the siege. Marlborough, with characteristic 
promptitude, moved at once on Kinsale. The old town 
and fort, not being defensible, were, after some show of 
resistance, abandoned by the Irish troops, who took post 
in the new fort, commanding the harbor, which they held 
with creditable tenacity, during fourteen days. They, 
at last, capitulated, their ammunition having run low, 
and were allowed, in recognition of their valor, to retire 
to Limerick, the garrison in that city being thus aug- 
mented by 1,200 tried warriors. Marlborough accom- 
plished his task within five weeks, and returned to Eng- 

The People's History of Ireland 303 

land a popular idol. The loss of Cork and Kinsale, par- 
ticularly the latter, was a severe blow to the Irish army, 
as it was, thereby, deprived of the most favorable sea- 
ports by which supplies from France could reach it. It 
should have been stated that Marlborough, in the capture 
of those towns, was materially assisted by the English 
fleet. His army was a very formidable one, consisting 
of 9,000 picked men from England, and a detachment, 
nearly equal in numbers, which joined him, under the 
Duke of Wurtemburg and General Scravenmore. The 
latter body consisted of troops who had fought at the 
Boyne and Limerick. Wurtemburg, on account of his 
connection with royalty, claimed the command in chief. 
Marlborough, who was as great a diplomat as he was a 
general, agreed to command alternately, but he was, all 
through the operations, the real commander. Students 
of history will remember that, in after wars on the Con- 
tinent, Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy com- 
manded on alternate days. But there was a great differ- 
ence in this case, Eugene having been regarded as nearly 
as good a general as Marlborough himself. 

O'Callaghan attributes the failure of the main Irish 
army to succor the Cork and Kinsale garrisons to the mis- 
conduct of Lauzun in deserting Ireland, with his remain- 
ing 5,000 French troops, at this critical period. He 
quotes King James's and Berwick's memoirs, the Raw- 
don papers, and other authorities, to show that the Duke 
of Berwick had advanced with 7,000 men as far as Kil- 
mallock, in Limerick County, to raise the siege of Cork, 
when he found himself destitute of cannon, which had 
been carried off by the French general, and could not ex- 
pose his inferior force, destitute of artillery, to the formi- 

Ireland 14. Vol. I. 

304 The People's History of Ireland 

dable force under his uncle, Marlborough. He was, 
therefore, most reluctantly compelled to abandon the en- 
terprise. Lauzun, it is further claimed, carried off most 
of the powder stored in Limerick, and, had it not been for 
Sarsfield's exploit at Ballyneety, that city must have fallen 
if a second assault had been delivered by William, as only 
fifty barrels of powder remained after the fight of August 

The autumn and winter of 169091 were marked by 
constant bloody skirmishes between the cavalry and in- 
fantry outposts of the two armies. Hardly a day passed 
without bloodshed. Considerable ferocity was exhibited 
by both parties, and neither seemed to have much the 
advantage of the other. Story's narrative of this period 
is one unbroken tale of disorder and strife. His narra- 
tion, if taken without a grain of salt, would lead us to 
believe that nearly all the able-bodied Celtic-Irish were 
put to the sword, at sight, by his formidable country- 
men and their allies, although he does admit, occasion- 
ally, that the Irish succeeded in killing a few, at least, 
of their enemies. The most considerable of these lesser 
engagements occurred between Sarsfield and the Duke 
of Berwick on the Irish side and General Douglas and 
Sir John Lanier on the side of the Williamites. The 
Irish leaders made an attack on Birr Castle in Septem- 
ber, and were engaged in battering it, when the English, 
under Lanier, Douglas, and Kirk, marched to relieve it. 
They were too many for Berwick and Sarsfield, who 
retired on Banagher, where there is a bridge over the 
Shannon. The English pursued and made a resolute at- 
tempt to take the bridge, but the Irish defended it so 
steadily, and with such loss to the enemy, that the latter 

The People's History of Ireland 305 

abandoned the attempt at capture and retired to Birr. 
Sarsfield possessed one great advantage over all the 
higher officers of King James's army. He could speak 
the Irish. (Gaelic) language fluently, having learned it 
from the lips of his mother, Anna O'More. This gave 
him vast control over the Celtic peasantry, who fully 
trusted him, as he did them, and they kept him informed 
of all that was passing in their several localities. The 
winter was exceptionally severe so much so that, at 
some points, the deep and rapid Shannon was all but 
frozen across. Besides, there were several bridges that, 
if carelessly guarded, could be easily surprised and taken 
by the invaders. Sarsfield's Celtic scouts, in December, 
observed several parties of British cavalry moving along 
the banks of the river. Their suspicions were excited, 
and they, at once, communicated with their general. 
The latter had no sooner taken the alarm than one En- 
glish force, under Douglas, showed itself at Jamestown, 
and another, under Kirk and Lanier, at Jonesboro. The 
English commanders were astonished at finding the Irish 
army prepared to receive them warmly at both points. 
After severe skirmishing, they withdrew. The cold had 
become so severe that foreign troops were almost useless, 
while the Irish became, if possible, more alert. Sarsfield, 
at the head of his formidable cavalry, harassed the re- 
treat of the Williamites to their winter quarters. 

The Duke of Tyrconnel, who had, according to O'Cal- 
laghan, and other annalists, sailed from Galway with 
Lauzun, and, according to other authorities from Lim- 
erick, with De Boisseleau, after William's repulse, re- 
turned from France, in February, accompanied by three 
men-of-war well laden with provisions. They carried 

306 The People's History of Ireland 

but few arms and no reinforcements, but the aged duke, 
who seeemed to be in good spirits, said that the latter 
would speedily follow. The amount of money he brought 
with him was comparatively insignificant only 14,000 
louis d'or which he devoted to clothing for the army, 
as most of the men were nearly in rags, and had received 
no pay in many months. He had deposited 10,000 louis, 
additional, at Brest for the food supply of the troops. 

He found unholy discord raging in the Irish ranks. 
Sarsfield had discovered that some members of the Sen- 
ate, or Council, appointed by Tyrconnel before he left 
for France, had been in treasonable correspondence with 
the enemy, and that this treachery had led to the attempt 
at the passage of the Shannon made by the English in 
December. The Council consisted of sixteen members, 
four from each province, and was supposed to have 
supreme direction of affairs. Through the influence of 
Sarsfield, Lord Riverston and his brother, both of whom 
were strongly suspected of treason, were dismissed from 
that body, and Judge Daly, another member, whose hon- 
esty was doubted, was placed under arrest in the city of 
Galway. A difference had also arisen between Sarsfield 
and Berwick, although they were generally on good 
terms, because the former did not always treat the latter 
with the deference due an officer higher in rank. Ber- 
wick was an admirable soldier, but he lacked Sarsfield's 
experience, and, naturally, did not understand the Irish 
people quite as well as the native leader did. In fact, 
Sarsfield was the hero of the time in the eyes of his 
countrymen, and, had he been unduly ambitious, might 
have deposed Berwick, or even Tyrconnel, and made 
himself dictator. But he was too good a patriot and 

The People's History of Ireland 307 

true a soldier to even harbor such a thought. After all 
his splendid services, he was ungratefully treated. He 
deserved the chief command, but it was never given him, 
and he received, instead, the barren title of Earl of Lucan, 
the patent of which had been brought over from James 
by Tyrconnel. But it was gall and wormwood for Sars- 
field to learn from the duke that a French commander-in- 
chief, Lieutenant-General the Marquis de St. Ruth, had 
been chosen by Louis and James to take charge of mili- 
tary matters in Ireland forthwith. Already he ranked 
below Tyrconnel and Berwick, although having much 
more ability than the two combined, as he had proven on 
many occasions. 

General St. Ruth, if we are to believe Lord Macaulay 
and other Williamite partisans, was more distinguished 
for fierce persecution of the French Protestants, called 
Huguenots, than anything else in his career. He had 
served in the French army, in all its campaigns, under 
Turenne, Catinat, and other celebrated soldiers, since 
1667, and, while yet in vigorous middle life, had won 
the rank of lieutenant-general. He had married the 
widow of old Marshal De Meilleraye, whose page he had 
been in his boyhood, and, according to St. Simon's gos- 
sipy memoirs, the couple led a sort of cat-and-dog ex- 
istence, the king having been often compelled to inter- 
fere between them. Of St. Ruth's person, St. Simon 
says: "He was tall and well-formed, but, as everybody 
knew, extremely ugly." The same authority says the 
general was "of a brutal temper," and used to baton his 
wife whenever she annoyed him. It is well known that 
St. Simon was a venomous detractor of those who had 
incurred his resentment, or that of his friends, and this 

308 The People's History of Ireland 

may account for his uncomplimentary references to St. 
Ruth. Irish tradition says that the latter was hard-fea- 
tured, but of commanding- person, with a piercing glance 
and a voice like a trumpet. It is certain that he had an 
imperious disposition and was quick to fly into a rage. 
When appointed to the command in Ireland, he had just 
returned from a successful campaign in Savoy, where 
Mountcashel's Irish Brigade, as already stated, had 
formed a portion of his victorious forces. He had learned 
to appreciate Irish courage and constancy during that 
campaign, and was, on that account as much as any other, 
deemed the fit man to lead the Irish soldiers on their own 
soil to victory. 

Tyrconnel had accepted St. Ruth from Louis and 
James, because he could not help himself, and, also, be- 
cause he was jealous of Sarsfield. The viceroy was no 
longer popular in Ireland. He was aged, infirm, and 
incompetent, and it would seem his temper had grown so 
bad that he could not get along peaceably with anybody. 
One faction from the Irish camp had sent representa- 
tives to James in the palace of St. Germain, begging that 
Tyrconnel be recalled and the command placed in the 
hands of Sarsfield. But Tyrconnel, because of old as- 
sociation, was all-powerful with the exiled king, and his 
cause, therefore, prevailed. Soon afterward the gallant 
Duke of Berwick, who subsequently won the battle of 
Almanza and placed Philip V King Louis's grandson 
on the throne of Spain, unable to agree with either 
Tyrconnel or Sarsfield, was relieved of command in Ire- 
land and joined his father in France. This was an addi- 
tional misfortune for Ireland. Berwick, the nephew of 
the great Duke of Marlborough, was, both by nature and 

The People's History of Ireland 309 

training, a thorough soldier. He was the very soul of 
bravery, and could put enthusiasm into an Irish army by 
his dashing feats of arms. He was missed in the subse- 
quent battles and sieges of that war. His career in the 
French army was long and brilliant. After rising to the 
rank of marshal, he was killed by a cannon shot while 
superintending the siege of Philipsburgh, in 1734. The 
aristocratic French family of Fitzjames is lineally de- 
scended from the Duke of Berwick, and that house, al- 
though of illegitimate origin, represents the male Stuart 
line, just as the House of Beaufort, in England, repre- 
sents, with the bend sinister shadowing its escutcheon, 
the male line of the Plantagenets. Strange to say, the 
Duke of Berwick's great qualities as a general were not 
even suspected by his associates, either French, English, 
or Irish, in Ireland. When Tyrconnel left him in com- 
mand, leading officers of the Irish army declared that they 
would not serve, unless he consented to be governed by 
a council more national in composition than that nomi- 
nated by Tyrconnel. After some strong protests, Ber- 
wick yielded the point, but never afterward made any 
attempt at bona-fide command. He felt that he was but 
a figurehead, and was glad when Tyrconnel's return led 
to his recall from a position at once irksome and humili- 
ating. Had he been King James's legitimate son, the 
House of Stuart would probably have found in him a 
restorer. He inherited the Churchill genius from his 
mother, Arabella, who was King James's mistress when 
that monarch was Duke of York. She was not handsome 
of feature, but her figure was perfect, and the deposed 
king, to judge by his selections, must have had a penchant 
for plain women. O'Callaghan, in his "History of the 

310 The People's History of Ireland 

Irish Brigades," says of the Duke of Berwick: "He was 
one of those commanders of whom it is the highest eulo- 
gium to say that to such, in periods of adversity, it is 
safest to intrust the defence of a state. Of the great 
military leaders of whose parentage England can boast, 
he may be ranked with his uncle, Marlborough, among 
the first. But to his uncle, as to most public characters, 
he was very superior as a man of principle. The Regent 
Duke of Orleans, whose extensive acquaintance with hu- 
man nature attaches a suitable value to his opinion, ob- 
served : 'If there ever was a perfectly honest man in the 
world, that man was the Marshal Duke of Berwick.' ' 
We have also the testimony of his French and other con- 
temporaries that he was a man of majestic appearance 
much more "royal" in that respect than any other scion of 
his race. 




General St. Ruth Arrives at Limerick to Command the Irish Army 

His Marvelous Activity Brave and Able, but Vain 

and Obstinate 

HP HE garrison of Limerick was beginning to despair 
I of any farther succor from France, and murmurs 
against the viceroy became loud and deep, when runners 
arrived from the southwestern coast, announcing that a 
French fleet had been sighted off the Kerry coast, and 
that it was, probably, steering for the estuary of the 
Shannon. This was in the first week of May, and, on 
the 8th of that month, the French men-of-war cast anchor 
in the harbor of Limerick. On board was Lieutenant- 
General St. Ruth, with Major-General D'Usson, Major- 
General De Tesse, and other officers. He brought with 
him, in the ships, provisions, a supply of indifferent cloth- 
ing, and a quantity of ammunition, but no reinforce- 
ments of any kind. The general, however, had a large 
personal staff and a retinue of servants and orderlies. 
He was received, on landing, by Tyrconnel, Sarsfield, 
Sheldon, and other army leaders. He and his officers 
attended pontifical High Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, 
where Te Deum was chanted. Macaulay, a somewhat 
imaginative authority, informs us that St. Ruth was 
disappointed, if not disgusted, by the conditions then 
existing in Limerick. He had been accustomed to com- 
mand troops perfectly uniformed and equipped. The 
Irish army was poorly dressed and indifferently armed. 


314 The People's History of Ireland 

He had seen the splendid legions of Mountcashel in 
Savoy, dressed scrupulously and bearing the best arms 
of that day, and he was quite unprepared to behold the 
undeniable poverty of the brave defenders of Athlone 
and Limerick. But he was a practical soldier, and at 
once set about what an American general would call 
"licking his army into shape." Dissatisfied with the cav- 
alry mounts, he resorted to a ruse to supply the de- 
ficiency. The "gentry" of the surrounding -districts were 
summoned to King's Island to deliberate on the question 
of national defence. They came in large numbers 
every man, as was the custom of the times, mounted on 
a strong and spirited horse. When all had assembled, 
St. Ruth, through an interpreter, addressed them in spir- 
ited words. One of the chief needs of the hour was 
cavalry horses. The gentlemen were invited to dismount 
and turn over their horses to the public service. This 
most of them did cheerfully, while others were chagrined. 
However, St. Ruth gained his point, and the Irish troop- 
ers were as well mounted as any in the world. 

The new French general, although much given to 
pleasure, was a man of extraordinary energy. He gave 
balls to honor the country gentlemen and their families, 
and the French uniform became very familiar in all the 
aristocratic Catholic circles of Munster and Connaught. 
St. Ruth participated in the dancing and feasting, but 
was always "up betimes," and away on horseback, at- 
tended by his staff and interpreters, to inspect the posts 
held by the Irish along the Shannon and Suck. It was 
during one of those rides, tradition says, he noticed the 
hill of Kilcommodan, rising above the little hamlet of 
Aughrim, near Ballinasloe, and, casting a glance at the 

The People's History of Ireland 315 

position, exclaimed to his officers, in French, "That is 
the choicest battleground in all Europe !" We shall hear 
more about Aughrim, and what there befell Monsieur 
St. Ruth and the Irish army. 

That brave army, at Limerick, Athlone, and Galway, 
was put through a course of drilling, such as it had never 
received before, under the orders of the ardent and in- 
defatigable Frenchman. He repressed disorder with an 
iron hand, and made such examples, under martial law, 
as seemed necessary. It is said he was severe to his 
officers and contemptuous to the rank and file of his 
army, but these assertions come mainly from Chaplain 
Story and chroniclers of his class. The haughty Irish 
aristocrats would have run St. Ruth through the body 
with their swords if he had dared to be insulting toward 
them. He was necessarily strict, no doubt, and this 
strictness bore glorious fruit when the reorganized army 
again took the field. One of the chief embarrassments 
of the time was lack of money. Lauzun, while in Ire- 
land, had played into the hands of the English by crying 
down King James "brass money," as it was called, issued 
on the national security. The poor devoted Irish sol- 
diers took it readily enough, but the trading and com- 
mercial classes, always sensitive and conservative where 
their interests are affected, were slow to take the tokens 
in exchange for their goods. King Louis had promised 
a large supply of "good money," but, somehow, it was 
not forthcoming, except in small parcels, which did little 
good. We may be sure, however, that St. Ruth, accus- 
tomed to Continental forced loans, did not stand on 
ceremony, and, under his vigorous regime, the Irish army 
was better armed, better fed, and better clad than it had 

316 The People's History of Ireland 

been since the outbreak of the war. Old Tyrconnel ruled 
Ireland nominally. The real ruler, after he had, by re- 
peated representations and solicitations, obtained unre- 
stricted military command, was St. Ruth himself. Un- 
happily for Ireland, he slighted Tyrconnel, who was a 
very proud man, and did not get along smoothly with 
Sarsfield. whose sage advice, had he taken it, would have 
saved him from a fatal disaster. 

Baron De Ginkel, commander-in-chief for William, 
marched with an army computed at 19,000 men from Dub- 
lin to open the campaign against the Irish on the line of 
the Shannon, on May 30, 1691. On June 7, he reached the 
fort of Ballymore, held by a small Irish force under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Ulick Burke, and summoned it to surren- 
der. Burke answered defiantly, and Ginkel immediately 
opened upon his works. A detached post, held by a ser- 
geant and a few men, was defended desperately and caused 
the Williamites serious loss. It was finally captured, and 
De Ginkel, with inexcusable cruelty, hanged the brave 
sergeant, for doing his duty, as O'Callaghan says, on the 
shallow pretext that he had defended an untenable posi- 
tion. Colonel Burke, nothing daunted, continued his 
defence of Ballymore, although Ginkel threatened him 
with the unfortunate sergeant's fate. The fire of eighteen 
well-served pieces of heavy artillery speedily reduced the 
fort to a ruin. The Irish engineer officer, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Burton, was killed, and many men had also fallen. 
Burke hung out a flag of truce and demanded the honors 
of war if he were to surrender the place. Ginkel refused 
and called for immediate submission. The utmost time 
he would grant was two hours, and he agreed to allow 
the women and children to depart within that period. 

The People's History of Ireland 317 

Once he proceeded to storm the position, he said, the gar- 
rison need expect no quarter. Colonel Burke declined to 
be intimidated and the work of destruction began anew 
the women and children still remaining in the be- 
leaguered fort. The latter was situated near the town of 
the same name, in the County Westmeath, on a peninsula 
which jutted into a small loch, or lake, and was too far 
from support to make a successful defence. It stood 
about midway between Mullingar and Athlone on the road 
from Dublin. Finally, Ginkel managed to assail it on the 
water front, breaches were made, and further resistance 
was useless. Therefore, Governor Burke finally sur- 
rendered. He and his command were made prisoners of 
war, and, in the sinister words of Story, the four hun- 
dred women and children, destitute of food, shelter, and 
protection, were "set at liberty." What subsequently be- 
came of them is not stated. Colonel Burke was ex- 
changed and fell in battle, at Aughrim, soon afterward. 
Seven days were occupied by De Ginkel in again putting 
Ballymore into a state of defence. He then resumed his 
march on Athlone, and, on June 18, was joined at Bally- 
burn Pass by the Duke of Wurtemburg and Count Nas- 
sau, at the head of 7,000 foreign mercenaries, and these, 
according to O'Callaghan, the most painstaking of his- 
torical statisticians, brought his force up to "between 
26,000 and 27,000 men of all arms." 

318 The People's History of Ireland 


De Ginkel Besieges Athlone Memorable Resistance of the Irish 

Garrison The Battle at the Bridge St. Ruth's Fatuous 

Obstinacy Town Taken by Surprise 

ST. RUTH had been advised by the Irish officers of 
his staff not to attempt the defence of the "English- 
town" of Athlone, on the Leinster bank of the Shannon; 
but, rather, to confine himself to the defence of the Con- 
naught side, as Governor Grace had done so successfully 
in the preceding year. He paid no attention to their 
counsel, considering, after reflection, that the Williamite 
army should be met and beaten back from the English- 
town, and believing that the bridge, which, in the event 
of abandonment, must be destroyed, might prove useful 
in future military operations. Accordingly, Colonel 
John Fitzgerald was appointed governor of this portion 
of Athlone, and, with a very insufficient force, prepared 
to do his duty. Ginkel, his well-fed ranks, according 
to Macaulay, "one blaze of scarlet," and provided with 
the finest artillery train ever seen in Ireland, appeared 
before Athlone on the morning of June I9th. His ad- 
vance was most gallantly disputed and retarded by a de- 
tachment of Irish grenadiers, selected by Governor Fitz- 
gerald, for that important duty. He took command of 
them in person, and they fought so bravely and obsti- 
nately, that the enemy were delayed in their progress for 
several hours, so that the Irish garrison was well pre- 
pared to receive them, when they finally appeared within 
gunshot of the walls. The attack on Englishtown began 
immediately, Ginkel planting such of his cannon as had 

The People's History of Ireland 319 

already come up with great judgment; and Fitzgerald 
replied to his fire with the few and inefficient pieces he 
possessed. But his Irish soldiers performed prodigies of 
heroism. Their deeds of unsurpassed valor are thus 
summed up by Mr. O'Callaghan in an epitaph which he 
suggested, in his "Green Book," should be engraved on a 
memorial stone in the locality of the action to be revered 
by the Irish people of all creeds and parties : 

"Be it remembered that, on the iQth and 2Oth of June, 
1691, a little band, of between three hundred and four 
hundred Irishmen, under Colonel Fitzgerald, contested 
against an English army of about 26,000 men, under 
Lieutenant-General Ginkel, the passes leading to, and the 
English town of, Athlone. And though the place had 
but a slender wall, in which the enemy's well-appointed 
and superior artillery soon made a large breach, and 
though its few defenders were worn down by forty-eight 
hours' continual exertion, they held out till the evening 
of the second day, when, the breach being assaulted by a 
fresh body of 4,000 Dutch, Danish, and English troops, 
selected from above 26,000 men, who fought in succes- 
sive detachments, against but three hundred or four hun- 
dred, with no fresh troops to relieve them, these gallant 
few did not abandon the breach before above two hun- 
dred of their number were killed or disabled. Then, in 
spite of the enemy, the brave survivors made their way 
to the bridge over the Shannon, maintained themselves 
in front of. it till they demolished two arches behind them, 
and finally retired across the river by a drawbridge into 
the Irish town, which was preserved by their heroism till 
the coming up, soon after, of the Irish main army under 
Lieutenant-General St. Ruth." 

The People's History of Ireland 

Having at last attained possession of Englishtown, 
Baron De Ginkel proceeded without delay to bombard 
the Connaught, and stronger, section of Athlone. His 
cannonade knocked a portion of the grim old castle to 
pieces, and did considerable other damage, but produced 
no depressing effect on the resolute Irish garrison, com- 
manded by two such heroes as Colonel John Fitzgerald 
and the veteran Colonel Grace, who acted as a volunteer. 
The experienced Dutch general, fearing the appearance 
on the scene of St. Ruth, with a relieving army, became 
a prey to anxiety. Impressed by the spirit displayed by 
the Irish troops, he knew there was little chance of forc- 
ing the mutilated bridge by a direct assault, and he looked 
for some means of flanking the place, either by a ford or 
a bridge of boats. He did not have, at first, sufficient 
material for the latter, so he "demonstrated" with detach- 
ments of horse, toward Lanesborough, east of Athlone, 
and Banagher west of it. The vigilance of the Irish 
patrols at both points baffled his design. 

Meanwhile, St. Ruth, who had been on the march from 
Limerick for some days, at the head of 15,000 men, if we 
are to believe King James's Memoirs, appeared beyond 
the Shannon and went into camp on a rising ground about 
a mile and a half from the town. He was soon made 
aware of the condition of affairs, and strengthened the 
castle garrison. He also had an earthen rampart con- 
structed to protect the bridge and ford. The latter was 
practicable at low water only, and the summer of 1691 
was exceptionally dry. The river had never been known 
to be so shallow within the memory of living man. This 
fact alone should have warned the French general to be 
exceptionally vigilant. He retired the brave Fitzgerald 

The People's History of Ireland 321 

from the governorship, to which he appointed General 
Wauchop a good soldier, but not an Irishman and the 
French officers, Generals D'Usson and De Tesse, were 
made joint commandants in the town. The apologists 
for St. Ruth's mistakes in front of Athlone claim that the 
ill-fated chief gave orders to the French commandants to 
level all the useless old walls near the bridge, but that 
his orders were neglected. As is usual in such cases, dis- 
obedience led to tragical results. Foiled in his attempt 
at flank operations, Ginkel determined to assault the par- 
tially destroyed bridge across the Shannon, which, under 
cover of a tremendous cannon fire, he did. But it was 
defended with Spartan tenacity. Attack after attack 
failed. Movable covered galleries were tried, and these 
contained planks wherewith to restore the broken arches. 
Not less than nine English batteries, armed with heavy 
guns, rained death on the Irish army, but still it stood 
unmoved, although losing heavily. Under cover of the 
fire of nearly fifty great guns, the English pontoniers, 
protected also by their galleries, succeeded in laying planks 
across the broken arches. They accounted their work 
done, when suddenly out of the Irish trenches leaped 
eleven men clad in armor, led by Sergeant Custume, or 
Costy, who, according to Sullivan, called on them "to die 
with him for Ireland." They rushed upon the bridge and 
proceeded to tear away the planks. Instantly, all the En- 
glish cannon and muskets sent balls and bullets crashing 
upon them. The whole eleven fell dead shattered by 
that dreadful fire. Some planks still remained upon the 
arches. Eleven more Irish soldiers leaped from their 
works, and, following the example of their fallen com- 
rades, gained the bridge and sought to throw the planks 

322 The People's History of Ireland 

into the river. Nine of these heroes were killed before 
their work was accomplished. But the planks were float- 
ing down the Shannon, and two heroic survivors of 
twenty-two Homeric heroes regained the Irish lines! 
Pity it is that their names have not come down to us. 
Aubrey de Vere, in his fine poem, commemorating the ex- 
ploit, tells us that St. Ruth, who, with Sarsfield, witnessed 
the glorious deed, rose in his stirrups and swore he had 
never seen such valor displayed in the Continental wars. 
Chaplain Story, with incredible meanness, tries to steal 
the glory of this deed from the Irish army by saying that 
the heroes were "bold Scots of Maxwell's regiment." 
The slander has been sufficiently refuted by O'Callaghan, 
Boyle, and other writers. Maxwell was a Scotchman, but 
he commanded Irish troops exclusively, and there was not 
a single Scotch battalion in the service of King James in 
Ireland from first to last. For further information on 
this point, the reader can consult O'Callaghan's "Green 
Book" and "History of the Irish Brigades/' and also Dai- 
ton's "King James's Irish Army List," which gives the 
roster of the field, line, and staff officers of each Irish regi- 
ment, including Maxwell's. The defence of the bridge 
occurred on the evening of June 28. On the morning of 
the 29th another attempt was to have been made, but, 
owing to some miscalculation, was deferred for some 
hours. St. Ruth was ready for it when it came, and, after 
another murderous struggle at the bridge, where the En- 
glish and their allies were led by the Scottish General 
Mackay, the assailants were again beaten off, their cov- 
ered gallery destroyed, and their bridge of boats, which 
they bravely attempted to construct in face of the Irish 
fire, broken up. St. Ruth commanded the Irish army in 

The People's History of Ireland 323 

person and displayed all the qualities of a good general. 
Success, however, would seem to have rendered him over- 
confident. The conflict over, he led his main body back 
to camp, and is said to have given a ball and banquet at 
his quarters a country house now in a neglected con- 
dition and popularly known as "St. Ruth's Castle." The 
Roscommon peasants still speak of it as "the owld house 
in which the French general danced the night before he 
lost Athlone." 

By some unaccountable fatality, St. Ruth, instead of 
leaving some veteran troops to occupy the works near 
the bridge, committed them to new and untrained regi- 
ments, which were placed under the command of Acting 
Brigadier Maxwell. The latter, who has been unjustly, 
perhaps accused of treason by Irish writers, would seem 
to have shared the fatal over-confidence of St. Ruth. 
Therefore, no extraordinary precautions were adopted 
to prevent a surprise something always to be anticipated 
when a baffled enemy grows desperate. Colonel Cormac 
O'Neill, of the great Ulster family of that ilk, happened 
to be on duty at the defences of the river front during 
the night and morning of June 29-30, and noticed sus- 
picious movements among the English troops occupying 
the other side of the Shannon. Becoming alarmed, he 
immediately communicated his suspicions to Maxwell, 
observing, at the same time, that he would like a supply 
of ammunition for his men. Maxwell sneered and asked, 
"Do your men wish to shoot lavrocks (larks) ?" How- 
ever, O'Neill's earnest manner impressed him somewhat, 
and, in the gray of the morning, he visited the outer 
lines, and, from what he saw, at once concluded that 
De Ginkel had some serious movement in contemplation. 

324 The People's History of Ireland 

He sent immediately to St. Ruth for a regiment of vet- 
eran infantry, at the same time giving his reasons for 
the request. St. Ruth, it is said, sent back a taunting 
reply, which reflected on Maxwell's courage. We are 
told that Sarsfield remonstrated with St. Ruth, who de- 
clared he did not believe Ginkel would make an attempt 
to surprise the town, while he was so near with an army 
to relieve it. English historians say that, upon this, 
Sarsfield apostrophized British valor and remarked that 
there was no enterprise too perilous for it to attempt. 
The discussion if, indeed, it ever took place was cut 
short by the ringing of bells and firing of cannon in 
the town. "Athlone is surprised and taken!" Sarsfield is 
credited with having said, as he observed the untrained 
fugitives running from the Irish trenches. "Impossible !" 
St. Ruth is represented to have replied, "Ginkel's master 
should hang him if he attempts the capture of the place, 
and mine should hang me if I were to lose it!" But 
the uproar from the city soon showed the Frenchman 
that something terrible had occurred. When too late, he 
gave orders to rectify his mistake. The English were 
already in the works and could not be dislodged. Max- 
well's men had fled in disorder, most of them being sur- 
prised in their sleep, and the general and some of his 
officers became prisoners of war. It was the most com- 
plete and successful surprise recorded in military annals, 
except, perhaps, that of Mannheim by General, after- 
ward Marshal, Ney, in 1799. It would seem that Ginkel, 
by the advice of Mackay, and other officers, looked for 
a ford, and found it by the aid of three Danish soldiers 
who were under sentence of death, and were offered their 
lives if they succeeded. They found the ford, and the 

The People's History of Ireland 325 

Irish, seeing them approach the bank of the river fear- 
lessly, concluded they were deserters and refrained from 
firing. After them plunged in sixty armored English 
grenadiers, led by Captain Sandys, a noted military dare- 
devil, and these were followed by the main body under 
Mackay, another experienced commander. The hour was 
six in the morning of June 30, and, after one of the 
bravest defences of which we have record, Athlone, 
through the infatuation of St. Ruth, was in English 
hands before noon on that eventful day. And so it came 
to pass, that after a conflict of more than a year, the 
defensive line of the Shannon was, at last, broken. It 
is estimated by most historians that Ginkel's total loss 
amounted to 1,200 men and that of St. Ruth was some- 
what greater, owing to the surprise. Among those killed 
in St. Ruth's army were two colonels, named McGin- 
ness, Colonel MacMahon, Colonel O'Gara, Colonel Rich- 
ard Grace, who fell in defence of the bridge on the 29th, 
and the French adjutant-general. Few officers of note 
fell on the English side. Ginkel, during the siege, "ex- 
pended 50 tons of gunpowder, 12,000 cannon balls, 
600 bombshells, and innumerable tons of stone, hurled 
from the mortars, when the shells were exhausted." 
After the capture, the English found only a mass of 
ruins, and it took De Ginkel several days to put the 
place in some kind of repair. 

326 The People's History of Ireland 


The Irish Army Falls Back and Takes Post at Aughrim Descrip- 
tion of the Field Disposition of the Irish Forces Baal 
Dearg O'Donnell's Apathy 

BOTH history and tradition affirm that St. Ruth and 
Sarsfield almost came to swords' points over the 
loss of Athlone, and it is still believed, in that section 
of Ireland, that the Irish general, indignant at the crim- 
inal blunder that had been committed by his superior, 
took all of his cavalry from under the Frenchman's com- 
mand and marched to Limerick. But this tradition is 
more than doubtful. It is, however, certain that the two 
leaders, who should have been so united in council, had a 
bitter altercation over the disaster, and were hardly on 
speaking terms during the few momentous days they 
were destined to serve together. St. Ruth was filled with 
rage and mortification. He felt that he had committed 
a grievous error, and dreaded the anger of King Louis, 
who was a severe judge of those who served him ill. 
He declared his determination to hazard all on a pitched 
battle. Against this resolve, Tyrconnel, who had come 
to the camp from Limerick, and others, protested, but 
in vain. St. Ruth was in no humor to be balked. Tyr- 
connel left the camp in dudgeon and retired once more 
to Limerick, which he was destined never to leave again. 
Having made up his mind to fight, St. Ruth at once broke 
camp and moved by Milton Pass, where he halted for a 
night, toward Ballinasloe, which stands on the river Suck 
and in the county of Galway. The cavalry covered the 
retreat, but no attempt whatever was made at pursuit. 

The People's History of Ireland 327 

The army took post along the fords of the Suck, as if 
it intended to fight in front of Ballinasloe, which was con- 
sidered quite defensible, but St. Ruth's previous knowl- 
edge of the country would appear to have determined him 
to retire about three and a half miles south by west of 
his first position, as soon as reinforcements, drawn from 
the abandoned, or reduced, posts along the Shannon, had 
joined him. In his retreat from Athlone, some of the 
Connaught troops, disgusted by the loss of that town and 
doubtful of the general's motives, deserted, and these 
had to be replaced by the soldiers of the Irish garrisons 
broken up or depleted. About July 9, old style, St. 
Ruth decamped from Ballinasloe, and a few hours after- 
ward his devoted army, which, according to our best 
information, consisted of about 15,000 foot and 5,000 
horse and dragoons, with only nine field-pieces, defiled 
by the causeways of Urachree and Aughrim to the slopes 
of Kilcommodan Hill, where the new camp was estab- 
lished, on the eastern side of the eminence, facing toward 
Garbally and Ballinasloe. Kilcommodan, at that period, 
was almost surrounded by red bog, and, on the front by 
which De Ginkel must approach, ran a small stream, with 
several branches, which made the morass impracticable 
for horse and difficult for infantry. In our day, this 
morass has become meadow-land, but it is about the only 
natural feature that has undergone considerable change 
since the period of the battle. From north to south, the 
hill is estimated to be a little more than a mile in length, 
and its mean elevation is about 350 feet. The bog lay 
closer up to Aughrim, where stand the ruins of an old 
castle which commanded the narrow and difficult pass, 
than to Urachree, where there is another pass not par- 

Ireland 15 Vol. I. 

328 The People's History of Ireland 

ticularly formidable to a determined assailant. The 
road through the pass of Aughrim ran then, and still 
runs, by Kilconnell Abbey and village after which the 
French have named the battle to Athenry, Loughrea, 
and Galway. The road through the pass of Urachree 
connects Ballinasloe with Lawrencetown, Eyrecourt, and 
Banagher Bridge, and also, by a branch route, with Por- 
tumna ; and these were the natural lines of retreat for the 
Irish army in the event of disaster. Near the crest of 
Kilcommodan Hill are the remains of two so-called Dan- 
ish raths, circular in shape, and in the one nearest to 
Aughrim Castle St. Ruth is said to have pitched his tent. 
Most of the elevation was then a wild common, but at 
its base, on the Irish front, were many fields under tillage, 
and these small inclosures were divided from each other 
by thick, "quickset" hedges, or, rather, fences, such as 
are still common in Ireland formidable against the en- 
croachments of cattle, but still more formidable when 
applied to military purposes. The French general had 
found his intrenchments ready-made, and proceeded to 
use them to the best possible advantage. Weak points 
in them were strengthened, and passageways connecting 
one with the other, from front to rear and from right to 
left, were constructed. The design was to enable the 
formidable Irish cavalry to aid the infantry when a crisis 
should arrive. In the direction of Urachree, St. Ruth 
caused the construction of regular breastworks, conceiv- 
ing that his point of danger lay to the right, and having, 
as a military writer has well observed, "a fatal confi- 
dence in the strength of his left flank," resting as it did 
on an old castle and "a narrow, boggy trench through 
which two horsemen could hardly ride abreast." All 

The People's History of Ireland 329 

his arrangements were completed by the loth of July, 
and, according to Boyle, the author of "The Battlefields 
of Ireland," his line of battle, which contemporaneous 
accounts say covered a front of about two miles, had its 
right resting on Urachree and its left upon Aughrim. 
The London "Gazette" of July, 1691, says that this wing 
of the Irish army "extended toward the Abbey of Kil- 
connell," which was considerably to the left and almost 
in rear of Kilcommodan Hill. The Irish centre rested 
on the mid slope of the elevation, "between its camp and 
the hedgerows." Each division consisted of two front 
and two rear lines ; the former of infantry and the latter 
of cavalry. Of St. Ruth's nine brass pieces, two were 
devoted to the defence of Aughrim Castle; a battery of 
three pieces was constructed on the northeastern slope of 
Kilcommodan, so as to rake the castle pass, a part of the 
morass, and the firmer ground beyond it, and thus pre- 
vent any hostile troops from deploying there and so 
threaten his left. His other battery, of four pieces, was 
planted on his right and swept the pass leading to Ura- 
chree. It is said that a strong reserve of horse, under 
Sarsfield, was posted on the west side of the hill, out 
of view of the approaching enemy, but that Sarsfield had 
been particularly enjoined by St. Ruth to make no move- 
ment whatever without a direct order from himself. 
Story, who ought to know, says that Sarsfield was sec- 
ond in command, but neither to him nor to any other 
of his subordinate generals did St. Ruth communicate 
his plan of battle, so that, if he were doomed to fall, the 
conflict could still be waged as he had from the first or- 
dained it. This was St. Ruth's most fatal error, as it 
placed the fate of Ireland on the life or death of a single 

3JO The People's History of Ireland 

man. He had no cannon with which to arm a battery on 
his centre, nor does he seem to have wanted any for 
that purpose his apparent plan being to let the English 
infantry cross at that point, where he felt confident the 
Irish foot and dragoons would soon make an end of 
them. Although King James's memoirs aver that St. 
Ruth had "a mean [i.e. poor] opinion" of the Irish in- 
fantry, until it developed its prowess in the battle, his dis- 
position of this arm at Aughrim would not convey that 
opinion to the observing mind. Most of the Irish foot 
lacked discipline, in the strict sense of the term, but no 
general who had seen them fight, as St. Ruth did, at the 
bridge of Athlone, could doubt their courage. His ex- 
pectation that the English troops sent against his centre 
would be roughly handled was not doomed to disappoint- 

Owing to many untoward causes, a full and correct 
list of the Irish regiments that fought at Aughrim is not 
to be obtained, but Boyle holds that Colonel Walter 
Bourke and his. brother, Colonel David Bourke, held the 
position in and around the castle of Aughrim ; that Lord 
Bophin, Brigadier Henry Luttrell, and Colonels Simon 
Luttrell and Ulick Bourke commanded on the left; that 
Major-General Dorrington, Major-General H. M. J. 
O'Neill, Brigadier Gordon O'Neill, Colonel Felix O'Neill, 
and Colonel Anthony Hamilton held the centre; and that 
Lords Kilmallock, Galmoy, Galway, Clare, and Colonel 
James Talbot commanded on the right, toward Urachree. 
Thus it may be inferred, says the historian, that the Mun- 
ster troops were on the right, the Leinster and Ulster con- 
tingents in the centre, and the soldiers of Connaught were 
posted on the left. The general in command of the entire 

The People's History of Ireland 331 

infantry was William Mansfield Barker, and Major-Gen- 
eral John Hamilton was in chief command of the horse. 
The discord among the chief officers in the Irish camp 
must have been something unusual, when to none of the 
distinguished commanders enumerated did the French 
commander-in-chief reveal his order of battle. But the 
historian recently quoted says, in reviewing the character 
of the unfortunate Frenchman : "Whatever were the foi- 
bles of St. Ruth, from his advent in the country to his 
retreat from Athlone, we have now to look on an entirely 
different character. He had learned, though at a fearful 
cost, that his name had no fears for his potent adver- 
sary ; that deeds alone were to be the test of high emprise, 
and that his folly had narrowed down the campaign, and 
in fact the whole war, to the last resource of fallen 
heroes death or victory. With this feeling, all that was 
vainglorious in his character at once disappeared ; the mist 
was removed from his mind, and it shone out to the end 
of his short career as that of a true hero in adversity. 
Unlike his French predecessors, he scorned to hide his 
faults behind the shield of calumny ; he candidly acknowl- 
edged his error and bitterly lamented it. He became 
courteous to his officers, affable to his soldiers, changed 
at once from the despot to the patriarch, and, touched by 
his sorrows, as much as by their own calamity, they again 
rallied round him and determined on a final throw for re- 
ligion and liberty." 

A proclamation issued by the English Lords Justices, in 
the name of William and Mary, immediately after the fall 
of Athlone, offered inducements, in the shape of promo- 
tion and money, to such officers and soldiers of the Irish 
army as would desert their colors and accept service with 

33 a The People's History of Ireland 

De Ginkel. Very few traitors availed themselves of the 
offer, but many of those who were indignant with St. 
Ruth abandoned the camp and joined the irregular forces 
of the military Hiberno-Spanish adventurer, Baal Dearg 
O'Donnell, who claimed to be of the noble House of Tyr- 
connel, and had lately come from Spain, apparently with- 
out a settled purpose or principle. Instead of uniting his 
7,000 irregulars with the regular Irish army under St. 
Ruth, who had no French troops whatever with him, 
O'Donnell assumed the airs of a hereditary Irish prince, 
affected to despise James as well as William, and estab- 
lished his camp and court in the country between Tuam 
and Athenry, within two short marches, if made even in 
ordinary time, of the Irish encampment on Kilcommodan 
Hill. St. Ruth summoned him to his aid, but the adven- 
turer, whose selfish conduct some Irish writers, notably 
Mr. Haverty, have sought to explain and excuse, made 
no reply, and, to this day, he is remembered in Ireland 
with detestation not unmingled with contempt. His 
duty, when within sound of the cannon of Aughrim, was 
to hasten to the field and spare the fate of his gallant 


De Ginkel Marches After St. Ruth The Latter Prepares to "Con- 
quer or Die" His Speech to the Irish Army on the Eve of 

EINFORCEMENTS continued to reach De Gin- 
1 \ kel's camp near Athlone, where he lingered much 
longer than he originally intended, owing to the utter 
ruin which the bombardment had wrought. Another 
cause of his delay was his anxiety to obtain fresh sup- 

The People's History of Ireland 333 

plies of ammunition, and he judged correctly that St. 
Ruth, rendered desperate by his late misfortune, would 
give him decisive battle at the very first opportunity. 
But, about July 10, all was in readiness, and leaving in 
Athlone a powerful garrison, the Dutch general and his 
fine army set out in pursuit of St. Ruth, who had now 
so many days "the start" of his enemy. The English 
halted that night at Kilcashel, on the road to Ballinasloe. 
On the nth they reached the fords of the Suck, and the 
scouts reported the Irish pickets in full view on the 
heights of Garbally now the domain of the Earl of 
Clancarty, whose ancestor distinguished himself as an 
artillerist on the English side at Aughrim. De Ginkel, 
taking with him a formidable force of cavalry, crossed 
the river by the ford and rode forward to reconnoitre 
St. Ruth's position. The Irish pickets fell back as he 
advanced, and, reaching the crest of the heights, he be- 
held, through his field-glass, on an opposite elevation, 
about a mile and a half distant, the Irish army drawn 
up in "battle's magnificently stern array," matches lighted 
at the batteries, and their colors advanced, challenging 
to combat. He rode forward farther still, to get a closer 
view, and St. Ruth allowed him to gratify his curiosity 
unmolested, although he came within less than half a 
mile of the Irish lines. What he saw made De Ginkel 
thoughtful. His military glance showed him the strength 
of the Irish position, and St. Ruth's reputation as a com- 
petent general stood high in all the camps of Europe. 
He rode back to his camp and called a council of his 
officers, Mackay, Ruvigny, Talmash, and the rest. Hav- 
ing explained the situation, he asked for their opinion. 
Some were for trying a flank movement, which would 

334 Tht People's History of Ireland 

draw St. Ruth from his chosen ground, but the bolder 
spirits said they had gone too far to turn aside without 
loss of honor, and a forward movement was decided on. 
The camp, guarded by two regiments, was left un- 
disturbed. All superfluous clothing was laid aside, and, 
in light marching order, De Ginkel's army crossed the 
Suck, the movement being visible to St. Ruth from Kil- 
commodan Hill, "the foot," as Story has it, "over the 
bridge; the English and French [Huguenot] horse over 
the ford above, and the Dutch and Danes over two fords 
below." It was six o'clock in the morning of Sunday, 
July 12, 1691 (July 23, new style), while the early 
church bells were ringing in Ballinasloe, when they pre- 
pared to march on Aughrim. English annalists, intend- 
ing, perhaps, to minimize the prowess of the Irish army, 
place De Ginkel's strength at 18,000 men of all arms, 
but the roster of his regiments, as given by Story and 
other contemporaneous writers, shows conclusively that 
his force 'could not havd'been less than from 25,000 to 
30,000 men, nearly all seasoned veterans. The William- 
ite chaplain's map of Ginkel's order of battle shows over 
seventy (70) regimental organizations, not including 
Lord Portland's horse, which joined after the line was 
formed. Some of the bodies shown as regiments may 
have been battalions or squadrons, but, making due al- 
lowance for these, and counting 400 men as the average of 
seventy distinct formations, which is an almost absurdly 
low estimate, the Williamite army could not, possibly, have 
been less than 28,000 men. Its artillery was formidable, 
and the cavalry British, Dutch, Danish, German, and 
Huguenot was accounted the best in Europe. As this 
fine force advanced toward its objective, the scared rural 

The People's History of Ireland 335 

folk fled before it, remembering, no doubt, the excesses 
committed by the armies, of William and Douglas in 
Leinster and Munster during the preceding year. The 
writer lived for some years almost within sight of Kil- 
commodan Hill, and heard from the simple, but intelli- 
gent, peasantry, whose great-grandfathers had spoken 
with soldiers of King James's army, how De Ginkel's 
troops defiled in four great, glittering columns of scarlet 
and blue and steel, horse, foot, and cannoneers, over the 
Suck and took up .their positions on the Galway side of 
the rive^. Their brass field-pieces shone like burnished 
gold in the morning sun. They halted where the road 
from Ballinasloe, running west by south, branches around 
the north side of Kilcommodan, toward Kilconnell, Athen- 
ry, and Galway, and around the south end of that eleva- 
tion toward Kiltormer, Lawrencetown, .and Clonfert. 
The Irish pickets fell back before them, firing as they 
retired, from the heights of Knockdunloe, Garbally, and 
Liscappel. De Ginkel marshaled his army into two lines 
of battle, corresponding almost exactly to the Irish 
formation, the infantry in the front line, and strongest, 
finally, toward the centre, and the cavalry on the flanks, 
supported by the cannon. 

Up to about 7.30 o'clock, tradition says, the morning 
remained beautifully clear, and the Irish camp, on the 
rising ground, was plainly visible to the enemy. St. 
Ruth's army, except the officers and men on duty and 
the few non-Catholic Jacobites who followed its fortunes, 
was observed to be assisting at mass altars having been 
erected by the chaplains at the head of every regiment. 
It was, according to the imposing French custom, which 
St. Ruth closely followed, military High Mass, during 

336 The People's History of Ireland 

which, at the elevation of the Host, there was rolling of 
the drums and blare of trumpets, instead of the pealing 
of cathedral bells. The horses of the Irish cavalry were 
"on herd" along the grassy hillside, under guard; but, 
when the English advance was sighted, the bugles 
sounded "To Horse/' and there was "mounting in hot 
haste" of Sarsfield's and Galmoy's and Kilmallock's 
bronzed and bearded troopers: the paladins of the 
Boyne and Ballyneety. Divine service over, the Irish 
army at once occupied the positions assigned to the sev- 
eral corps by their general on the preceding day. Story 
and some other English writers claim that, on that day, 
also, St. Ruth addressed to his army a pompous, vain- 
glorious, and rather insulting speech, which he caused to 
be translated into English and Irish, by his interpreters, 
for the benefit of those to whom it was directed. But 
Irish chroniclers aver that he spoke to the troops with 
paternal consideration, reminded them of their country's 
sufferings, and their own *duty, and called upon them, 
in words of nervous eloquence, in the name of honor, 
religion, and liberty, and for Ireland's military glory, 
to conquer or die. 


Decisive Battle of Aughrim It Opens Favorably for the Irish Des- 
perate Fighting in the Centre and at Urachree Fortune 
or Treason Favors De Ginkel 

BUT the fog, "arising from the moist valley of the 
Suck," had, meanwhile, gathered so densely that the 
rival armies, for a time, lost sight of each other, and De 
Ginkel's forward movement was suspended; but his sol- 
diers rested in the positions previously determined on, 

The People's History of Ireland 337 

although the formation had to be somewhat modified later 
in the day. It was about noon when the fog finally rolled 
away, and Ginkel's line of battle moved slowly onward, 
until, at last, to use the graphic words of Lord Macaulay, 
the rival armies "confronted each other, with nothing but 
the bog and the breastwork between them." The Irish 
historian, John Boyle, states, in his fine account of the 
conflict at Aughrim, that, at sight of the Williamite array, 
on the other side of the morass, the Irish army broke into 
loud shouts of defiance, which were vigorously responded 
to by their foes. There was a mutual mortal hatred ex- 
pressed in those cheers. It meant "war to the knife," 
and, as at our own Buena Vista, 

"Who heard the thunder of the fray 

Break o'er the field beneath, 
Well knew the watchword of that day 
Was "Victory or death!'" 

Observing the strength of the Irish left at Aughrim 
Castle, De Ginkel resolved to manoeuvre toward Urachree, 
where his horse had a better chance, and, about one 
o'clock, began the battle with a cavalry advance in the 
direction of the latter point. The first charge was made 
by a Danish troop on an Irish picket. The latter met the 
shock so fiercely that the Danes, although superior in 
numbers, by the admission of Story, fled in great haste. 
Another party was sent forward, and still another the 
Irish responding with fresh bodies of their own, until, at 
last, Cunningham's dragoons, Eppinger's cavalry, and 
Lord Portland's horse all under the veteran General 
Holztapfel were drawn in on the English side. They 
charged furiously, and, for a moment, the Irish cavalry 
gave ground, drawing their opponents after them. The 

338 The People's History of Ireland 

English, carried away by apparent success, rode at a gal- 
lop past the house of Urachree and were immediately 
charged in flank by the brave Lord Galmoy. A mur- 
derous conflict followed, but, as at the Boyne, the Irish 
horsemen showed their superiority, and their gallant ene- 
mies were forced to fall back in terrible disorder, leaving 
hundreds of their comrades dead or dying on the ensan- 
guined field. Many of the Irish troopers fell also, and, 
on both sides, every man was killed or wounded by the 
sabre. The English left their heroic commander, General 
Holztapfel, among their dead. When De Ginkel saw his 
chosen cavalry repelled with slaughter from Urachree, he 
became profoundly anxious. There had been, up to this 
time, only a few partial demonstrations by the Anglo- 
Dutch infantry which had produced no impression 
whatever on St. Ruth's sturdy foot, who lay quietly 
in their works, waiting for their foes to advance to 
closer quarters. 

De Ginkel, in deep distress of mind, summoned a coun- 
cil of war, which debated whether it were better to defer 
the battle until next day or renew the attack immediately. 
At one time, during the discussion, it was determined 
upon to send back to Ballinasloe for the tents, and en- 
camp for the night where the army stood. This decision 
was afterward set aside, and, says Chaplain Story, "it 
was agreed to prosecute the battel on the enemies' right, 
by that means proposing to draw part of their strength 
from Aghrim [so he spells it] Castle, nigh which their 
main body was posted, that so our right might have the 
easier passage over to attack their left, and then our 
whole army might have opportunity to engage. This, I 
am told, was the advice of Major-General Mackay, a 

The People's History of Ireland 339 

man of great judgment and long experience, and it had 
its desired success." 

We will take the Williamite chaplain's account of the 
movement against the Irish right wing, which immedi- 
ately followed the council of war: "About half an hour 
past four in the afternoon, a part of our left wing moved 
toward the enemy,, and, at five o'clock, the battel began 
afresh. A party of our foot marched up to their ditches, 
all strongly guarded with musketiers, and their horse 
posted advantageously to sustain them : here we fired one 
upon the other for a considerable time, and the Irish be- 
haved themselves like men of another nation [mark the 
ungracious sneer], defending their ditches stoutly; for 
they would maintain one side till our men put their 
pieces over at the other, and then, having lines of com- 
munication from one ditch to another, they would pres- 
ently post themselves again, and flank us. This occasioned 
great firing on both sides, which continued on the left 
nigh an hour and a half, ere the right of our army or the 
centre engaged, except with their cannon, which played 
on both sides. All this time, our men were coming up in 
as good order as the inconveniency of the ground would 
allow, and now General Mackay and the rest, seeing the 
enemy draw off several bodies of horse and foot from the 
left, and move toward their right, when our men pressed 
them very hard; they [the English generals] laid hold 
on that advantage, and ordered the foot to march over 
the bogg, which fronted the enemies'' main battel. Colonel 
Earl, Colonel Herbert, Colonel Creighton, and Colonel 
Brewer's regiments went over at the narrowest place, 
where the hedges on the enemies' side run farthest into 
the bogg. These four regiments were ordered to march 

340 The People's History of Ireland 

to the lowest ditches, adjoining to the side of the bogg, 
and there to post themselves till our horse could come 
about by Aghrim Castle and sustain them, and till the 
other foot marched over the bogg below, where it was 
broader, and were sustained by Colonel Foulk's and Briga- 
dier Stewart's [forces]. Colonel Earl advanced with his 
regiment, and the rest after him, over the bogg, and a 
rivulet that ran through it, being most of them up to their 
middles in mudd and water. The Irish at their near 
approach to the ditches fired upon them, but our men 
contemning all disadvantages, advanced immediately to 
the lowest hedges, and beat the Irish from thence. The 
enemy, however, did not retreat far, but posted them- 
selves in the next ditches before us, which our men see- 
ing and disdaining [sic] to suffer their lodging so near 
us, they would needs beat them from thence also, and so 
from one hedge to another, till they got very nigh the 
enemies' main battel. But the Irish had so ordered the 
matter as to make an easy passage for their horse amongst 
all those hedges and ditches, by which means they poured 
in great numbers both of horse and foot upon us : which 
Colonel Earl seeing, encouraged his men by advancing be- 
fore them, and saying : 'There is no way to come off but 
to be brave!' As great an example of true courage and 
generosity as any man this day living [1693], But, 
being flanked and fronted, as also exposed to the enemies' 
shot from the adjacent ditches, our men were forced to 
quit their ground, and betake themselves to the bogg 
again, whither they were followed, or rather drove [sic] 
down by main strength of horse and foot, and a great 
many killed. Colonel Earl and Colonel Herbert were 
here taken prisoners; the former, after twice taking 

The People's History of Ireland 341 

and retaking, got free at last, tho' not without being 

"While this was doing here, Colonel St. John, Colonel 
Tiffin, Lord George Hambleton, the French [Huguenots] 
and other regiments were marching below on the same 
bogg. The Irish, in the meantime, laid so close in their 
ditches that several were doubtful whether they had any 
men at that place or not; but they were convinced of it 
at last; for no sooner were the French and the rest got 
within twenty yards, or less, of the ditches, but the Irish 
fired most furiously upon them, which our men as bravely 
sustained, and pressed forwards, tho' they could scarce 
see one another for the smoak [sic] . And now the thing 
seemed so doubtful, for some time, that the by-standers 
would rather have given it on the Irish side, for they had 
driven our foot in the centre so far back that they were 
got almost in a line with some of our great guns, planted 
near the bogg, which we had not the benefit of at that 
juncture, because of the mixture of our men and theirs. 

"Major-General Ruvigny's French horse and Sir John 
Lanier's, being both posted on the right, were afterward 
drawn to the left, where they did very good service. 
And the right wing of our horse, in the meantime, were 
making what haste they could to succor our foot; for, 
seeing the danger, and, in fact, that all was in hazard by 
reason of the difficulty of the pass, they did more than 
men, in pressing and tumbling over a very dangerous 
place, and that amongst showers of bullets, from a regi- 
ment of dragoons and two regiments of foot, posted 
conveniently under cover by the enemy, to obstruct our 
passage. Our horse at this place were sustained by 
Major-General Kirke and Colonel Gustavus Hambleton's 

The People's History of Ireland 

foot, who, after we had received the enemies' fire for a 
considerable time, marched under the walls of the castle, 
and lodged themselves in a dry ditch, in the throng of the 
enemies' shot [globular buttons cut from their jackets, 
when their ammunition failed], and some other old walls 
and ditches adjoining." 

Commenting on the foregoing account of the William- 
ite chaplain, Mr. O'Callaghan, in his "Green Book," page 
224, says: "He [Story] has the same fraudulent color- 
ing I have previously exposed respecting this [the Hugue- 
not] portion of the English left having 'kept their 
ground.' The Huguenot narrative [of the battle] is only 
wrong in the supposition that La Forest [Huguenot gen- 
eral] on the English left was successful with the French 
[Huguenot] infantry, before Ruvigny [Huguenot gen- 
eral], with his horse, had conquered in the centre; the 
first progress of the English having been on their right 
opposite Aughrim . . . where Sir Francis Compton with 
the van and Mackay with the rest of the English horse 
succeeded in forcing a passage; secondly, on the centre, 
where Talmash next to Mackay, and Ruvigny next to 
Talmash advanced; and, thirdly, on the left, where La 
Forest first, and then the Danish horse and foot were en- 
abled to cross." 


Battle of Aughrim Continued Its Crisis The English Turn Irish 

Left St. Ruth Killed by Cannon Ball Confusion and 

Final Defeat of Irish Army 

THE lodgment made by the English, or, rather, Ulster 
regiment of Gustavus Hamilton in the dry ditch, as 
described by Chaplain Story, together with another lodg- 
ment made in front of the Irish left centre by some of 

The People's History of Ireland 343 

the infantry who escaped the slaughter when they were 
so gallantly repulsed at that point shortly before, how- 
ever effected, threw the chances of victory, for the first 
time that day, heavily on the side of De Ginkel. St. 
Ruth, whose sharp attention was, doubtless, mainly drawn 
off toward his centre and right, where the battle had 
raged fiercely and continuously for nearly two hours, soon 
became aware of the movement inaugurated by the ene- 
my's cavalry at the castle pass. He seemed astonished, 
conceiving that the point was strongly garrisoned, and 
asked of his officers : "What do they mean ?" The reply 
was : "They mean to pass there and flank our left !" St. 
Ruth observed them for a moment, laughed incredulous- 
ly, having still "that fatal confidence in the strength of 
his left flank," and exclaimed in his impetuous fashion: 
"Pardieu ! but they are brave ! What a pity they should 
be so exposed!" A few minutes previously, exhilarated 
by the splendid prowess of the Irish infantry, in the cen- 
tre and at Urachree, he threw his plumed hat in the air 
anu shouted : "Well done, my children ! The day is 
ours ! Now we will beat them back even to the gates of 

The unlooked-for passage of the English horse on the 
Irish left has been variously explained, or, rather, sought 
to be explained. Almost every Irish writer, the careful 
O'Callaghan included, attributes the disaster to a lack 
of proper ammunition on the part of Colonel Walter 
Bourke's regiment, to which was committed the defence 
of the castle. Having exhausted their original supply, 
the soldiers opened the barrels in reserve and found that 
the bullets were cast for the calibre of the English guns 
which they had used earlier in the war, and were too large 

344 The People's History of Ireland 

for the bore of the French muskets, which they carried 
at Aughrim. Other authors aver that when the Irish left 
was weakened, to strengthen the right, the front in- 
stead of the rear line of the covering brigade (Henry 
Luttrell's) was withdrawn, thus enabling the infantry 
that accompanied Sir Francis Compton's horse who 
were twice repulsed, but, being heavily reinforced, again 
advanced to post themselves in "the dry ditch" referred 
to by Chaplain Story; while General Talmash made a 
corresponding lodgment, with his rallied foot, on the 
right centre. Gross carelessness, deliberate treason, or 
both combined, contributed to the Irish disaster. St. 
Ruth himself, however, would not seem to have been 
much concerned by the apparition of the English cav- 
alry forming toward his left flank, in the small area of 
firm ground, just across from the old castle. On the 
contrary, like Napoleon before the final charge at Water- 
loo, "the flash of victory passed into his eyes," and, as 
he observed the enemy forming with some difficulty in 
that narrow space, while the single infantry regiment in 
the dry ditch cowering under the rain of Irish bullets, 
cried out to his staff, "We have won the battle, gentle- 
men! They are beaten. Now let us beat them to the 
purpose!" His bodyguard was formed in rear of the 
staff and he had already ordered his cavalry reserve to 
report to him. Therefore, these formidable squadrons 
came up at a trot that shook the ground over the hill 
behind him. We are not informed of the name of the 
officer who led them fortunately for his fame, for he 
must have been either a dastard or a traitor. Instead of 
committing the command to a subordinate general, as he 
should have done, St. Ruth prepared to lead the attack in 

The People's History of Ireland 345 

person, and the mass of horsemen, proud and confident, 
began to move slowly down the slope in the direction of 
the disheartened but still determined enemy. The general, 
dismounting, halted for a brief space at the battery which 
defended that flank of the army, addressed some remarks 
to the officer in command, and, it is said, directed the 
fire of one of the cannon, with his own hand, toward a 
particular point of the causeway leading to the castle. 
Then he remounted his superb gray charger the third 
he had ridden that fatal day and, dressed as he was in 
full uniform, made a conspicuous mark for the English 
gunners. He drew his sword, his hard features, accord- 
ing to tradition, kindling with enthusiasm, and was about 
to utter the command to charge Compton's and Levin- 
son's cavalry a charge that must have given the victory 
to Ireland, because, according to Macaulay, De Ginkel 
already meditated a retreat when, right before the eyes 
of his horrified followers, his head was dashed from his 
shoulders by a cannon shot, fired from the English bat- 
tery at the other side of the bog! His sword remained 
firmly gripped in his right hand, but his affrighted horse 
galloped down the hill, the body of the rider remaining 
erect in the saddle, until it was knocked off by the over- 
hanging branches of a tree whose remnants are still 
pointed out to the traveler. A general paralysis of the 
Irish left wing, chiefly among the horse, would seem to 
have immediately followed the sudden and ghastly death 
of St. Ruth. The French attendants at once threw a 
cloak over the headless trunk, with the well-meant, but, 
as it turned out, ill-considered object of concealing the 
general's unlooked-for fall from the all but victorious 
Irish army. 

346 The People's History of Ireland 

St. Ruth's bodyguard halted the moment he fell, 
and, when the servants bore the body over the hill to- 
ward the rear, they acted as escort. The Irish horse, 
through the timidity or treachery of their chief, halted 
also, and, unaccountably, followed the movement in re- 
treat of the bodyguard. The single word "Charge!" 
uttered by any general officer, before the cavalry retired, 
would have saved the day; but it was never uttered. 
The stubborn Mackay and his lieutenants, from their 
position near the castle below, divined, from the confu- 
sion they observed on the near hillside, that something 
fatal had occurred. They took fresh heart. More of 
their cavalry, strongly supported by infantry, came up. 
All these reheartened troops began to push forward be- 
yond the pass, and even on their beaten centre and left 
the long-baffled British and their allies again assumed 
the offensive. No orders reached the Irish troops 
mainly foot still in position on the right and centre 
and even on a portion of the left for the order of 
battle had perished with St. Ruth. Was it possible that, 
impressed by repeated dissensions, he doubted the fidelity 
of his chiefs and feared to take any of them into his 
confidence? He must have misjudged most of them sorely 
if this was the case. Mere selfishness or vanity can not 
explain his fateful omission. The English cavalry, now 
practically unopposed, poured through the pass, pene- 
trated to the firm ground on the north slope of the hill, 
and, finally, appeared in rear of the infantry of the Irish 
left wing. Their foot, too, had succeeded in making 
firm lodgment in the lowest ditches. The Irish still con- 
tinued to fight bravely, "but without order or direction." 
At the sight of the repeatedly routed British infantry 

The People's History of Ireland 347 

crossing the bog in the centre, and the cavalry threaten- 
ing their left and rear, it is averred by Boyle that a cry 
of "Treason!" rang through the ranks of the regiments 
so placed as to be able to observe the hostile movements. 
The enemy now vigorously attacked the Irish right and 
centre, but were as vigorously met, and again and again 
repulsed. For a long time, on the right particularly, they 
were unable to advance, and it would appear that the 
Irish soldiers in their front were totally ignorant of what 
had occurred in other parts of the field. The Irish in- 
fantry on the left, destitute of ammunition and having 
ejapended even their buttons and ramrods for projectiles, 
retired within the castle, where nearly all of them were 
finally slaughtered; or else broke off to the left, toward 
Kilconnell, and made for the large, red bog, which almost 
surrounded that flank, where many of them found refuge 
from the sabres of the pursuing cavalry. But even still 
the devoted centre and right, although furiously as- 
saulted, refused to give way. At last, the uproar toward 
Aughrim, and the bullets of the outflanking enemy in 
the left rear, taking them in reverse, warned these brave 
troops that their position had become desperate. Twi- 
light had already set in it was more than an hour after 
the fall of St. Ruth when the English horse and foot 
appeared almost behind them, toward the northwest; 
while the Dutch, Danish, and Huguenot cavalry, so long 
repelled at Urachree, supported by the foot that had, at 
long run, crossed the morass r began to hem them in on 
all sides. Their bravest leaders had fallen, but this ad- 
mirable infantry retired slowly from inclosure to in- 
closure, fighting the fight of despair, until they reached 
their camp, where the tents were still standing in the 

348 The People's History of Ireland 

order in which they were pitched. Here they made their 
last heroic stand, but were, at length, broken and fled 
toward the red bog already mentioned. The English 
leveled the tents, so as to render pursuit more open, and 
then a dreadful slaughter of the broken Irish foot fol- 
lowed. Few of these brave men, worthy of a better fate, 
escaped the swords of the hostile horse. "Our foreign- 
ers, and especially the Danes, make excellent pursuers," 
writes Chaplain Story grimly. Irish historians say that 
two of the Irish regiments, disdaining to fly, took posi- 
tion in a ravine, and there waited "till morning's sun 
should rise and give them light to die." They were dis- 
covered by the enemy next morning and perished to a 
man! The spot where they died is still pointed out and 
is called by the peasantry "the glen of slaughter." 

We have, unhappily, no better authority than tradition 
for stating that, toward the end of the battle, a part of the 
Irish cavalry, led by Sarsfield, covered the retreat of the 
survivors of the Irish foot on Loughrea and Limerick. 
In fact there seems to be a complete mystery about the 
action of the Irish cavalry after the death of the French 
general. Certain it is that this force did not act with the 
vigor it showed in the early part of the combat on the 
right or with the spirit it displayed at the Boyne ; and this 
fact deepens the doubt as to whether Sarsfield was in the 
fight or not. Had it not been, as we are informed by the 
learned Abbe McGeoghegan, in his able "History of 
Ireland," for one O'Reilly, the almoner of a regiment, 
who caused the charge to be sounded as the fugitives 
passed through a boggy defile on the line of retreat, the 
entire Irish infantry might have been destroyed. They 
were also aided by darkness, caused by "a thick misty 

The People's History of Ireland 349 

rain," brought on, no doubt, by the detonations of the 
firearms, acting on a humid atmosphere. Numbers of 
small arms and other munitions were abandoned in the 
flight ; all the cannon, most of the colors, and the whole 
camp material fell into the hands of the enemy. Aughrim 
was to Ireland what Culloden was to Scotland and Wa- 
terloo to France an irretrievable military disaster, re- 
deemed only by the desperate valor of the defeated army. 
Even the most bitter and partisan of the English annalists 
admit, although with manifest reluctance, that the Irish 
army fought heroically in this murderous battle. Its losses 
are placed by Story, who witnessed the conflict through- 
out, at 7,000 killed on the spot and 500, including officers, 
made prisoners. This statement of his shows conclu- 
sively that almost all of the Irish wounded were put to 
the sword. Other writers, including King James himself, 
make the Irish loss somewhat less, but we are inclined 
to think that Story, in this case, came pretty near to the 
truth. He says in his interesting narrative, "looking 
amongst the dead three days after, when all of ours and 
some of theirs were buried, I reckoned in some small 
inclosures 150, in others 120, etc., lying most of them 
in the ditches where they were shot, and the rest from 
the top of the hill, where their camp had been, looked like 
a great flock of sheep, scattered up and down the country 
for almost four miles round." The bodies had been 
stripped by the camp followers, which accounts for the 
white appearance to which Story makes allusion. Most 
of these corpses were inhumanly left above ground, to be 
the prey of birds and beasts, by the conquerors, and thus 
Aughrim is known to the Irish people as the "Field of 
our Unburied Dead." It was customary a generation 

350 The People's History of Ireland 

ago, and may be so in our day, for the Catholic peas- 
antry passing along the roads that wind around Kilcom- 
modan, to uncover their heads reverently and offer up 
prayers for the souls of the heroes of their race who 
died there for faith, land, and liberty. 

Story says he never could find out what became of St. 
Ruth's corpse, "some say that it was left stripped amongst 
the other dead when our men pursued beyond the hill, 
and others that it was thrown into a bog." In the neigh- 
borhood of Aughrim it was long believed that while still 
the left of the Irish army remained in position, the 
French staff officers laid the remains to rest under the 
chancel floor of the adjacent Abbey of Kilconnell. Other 
traditions are to the effect that they were buried in Lough- 
rea Abbey, or beside those of Lord Galway, who fell in 
the same battle, in the ruined church of Athenry. Boyle, 
after mentioning the two last-named probabilities, says : 
"There is, however, reason to doubt both, and the writer 
is aware that the people of the locality where the battle 
was fought, directed by tradition, point to a few stunted 
white thorns, to the west of the hill toward Loughrea, 
beneath which, they say, rest the ashes of that great but 
unfortunate general." 


Mortality Among Officers of Rank on Both Sides Acknowledged 

English Loss at Aughrim English and Irish Comments 

on Conduct of Battle 

BESIDES St. Ruth, the chief officers killed on the 
Irish side were, according to Story's account, Gen- 
eral Lord Kilmallock, General Lord Galway, Brigadier- 
General Connel (O'Connell), Brigadier-General W. 

The People's History of Ireland 351 

Mansfield Barker, Brigadier-General Henry M.J. O'Neill, 
Colonel Charles Moore, his lieutenant-colonel and major; 
Colonel David Bourke, Colonel Ulick Bourke, Colonel 
Connor McGuire, Colonel James Talbot, Colonel Ar- 
thur, Colonel Mahony, Colonel Morgan, Major Pur- 
cell, Major O'Donnell, Major Sir John Everard, 
with several others of superior rank, "besides, at least, 
five hundred captains and subordinate officers." This 
latter statement has been challenged by Irish histo- 
rians, who claim that non-commissioned officers were in- 
cluded in the list. Story omitted from the number of 
superior officers slain the name of Colonel Felix O'Neill, 
Judge-Advocate-General of the Irish army, whose body 
was found on the field. Of the less than five hundred 
Irish prisoners taken, twenty-six were general or field 
officers, including General Lord Duleek, General Lord 
Slane, General Lord Bophin, General Lord Kilmaine, 
General Dorrington, General John Hambleton (Hamil- 
ton), Brigadier-General Tuite, Colonel Walter Bourke, 
Colonel Gordon O'Neill, Colonel Butler, Colonel O'Con- 
nell (ancestor of Daniel O'Connell), Colonel Edmund 
Madden, Lieutenant-Colonel John Chappel, Lieutenant- 
Colonel John Butler, Lieutenant-Colonel Baggot, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel John Border, Lieutenant-Colonel McGin- 
ness, Lieutenant-Colonel Rossiter, Lieutenant-Colonel 
McGuire, Major Patrick Lawless, Major Kelly, Major 
Grace, Major William Bourke, Major Edmund Butler, 
Major Edmund Broghill, Major John Hewson, "with 
30 captains, 25 lieutenants, 23 ensigns, 5 cornets, 4 quar- 
termasters, and an adjutant." 

Chaplain Story, to whom, with all his faults, we are 
much indebted for the details of this momentous battle 

Ireland 16 fol. I. 

352 The People's History of Ireland 

one of the few "decisive battles" of the world says.* 
"We [the English and their allies] lost 73 officers, who 
were killed in this action, with in wounded, as appears 
by the inserted lists [vide his History of the "Wars in 
Ireland"] of both horse and foot, given in two days 
after by the general's command, and sent to the king." 
The lists referred to acknowledged, also, 600 soldiers 
killed and 906 wounded. The allied losses were, no 
doubt, underestimated for political effect in England, 
which had been taught that one Englishman could kill 
any number of Irishmen without much fear of a fatal 
result to himself. And this superstition was useful, we 
believe, to the morale of the British soldiers of the pe- 
riod, whose stomachs failed them so notably when they 
were "up against" the defences of Limerick, as will be 
seen hereafter. Captain Taylor, a Williamite writer, 
who was present at the battle and published a graphic ac- 
count of it, says that the loss of the allies (British, Dutch, 
Danes, Germans, and Huguenots) was little less than 
that of the Irish, most of the latter having fallen in the 
retreat after the death of General St. Ruth. Of the 
Anglo-Dutch troopers, there were killed by the Irish cav- 
alry at the pass of Urachree, in the early part of the 
fight, 202, and wounded 125, thus showing the superior 
strength, reach of arm, and dexterity of the Irish horse- 
men. In hand-to-hand conflicts, whether mounted or 
on foot, the Irish soldiery, in whatever service, ever ex- 
celled, with sword or battle-axe, pike or bayonet. Clon- 
tibret and the Yellow Ford, Benburb and Fontenoy, Al- 
manza and Albuera, Inkerman and Antietam bear witness 
to the truth of this assertion. As a charging warrior, 
the Irishman has never been surpassed, and, no matter 

The People's History of Ireland 353 

how bloodily repulsed, an Irish regiment or an Irish 
army is ever willing to try again. There may be sol- 
diers as brave as they, but none are braver, even when 
they fight in causes with which they have no natural sym- 
pathy. It may be set down as a military axiom that the 
Irish soldier is, by force of untoward circumstances, fre- 
quently a mercenary, but rarely, or never, a coward. 

The principal officers who fell on the English side, 
at Aughrim, were Major-General Holztapfel, who com- 
manded Lord Portland's horse at Urachree; Colonel 
Herbert, killed in the main attack on the Irish centre ; 
Colonel Mongatts, who died among the Irish ditches 
while trying to rally his routed command; Major Devon- 
ish, Major Cornwall, Major Cox, and Major Colt. Many 
other officers of note died of their wounds at the field 
hospital established on the neighboring heights of Gar- 
bally now converted into one of the most delightful 
demesnes in Europe; and some who survived the field 
hospital died in the military hospitals of Athlone and 
Dublin. Those who fell in the battle were buried on the 
field, with the usual military honors. 

Captain Parker, who fought in the English army in 
this battle, and who has left a narrative, frequently quoted 
by O'Callaghan, Haverty, Boyle, and other historians, 
says : "Our loss was about 3,000 men in killed and 
wounded," and, as he was in the thick of the fight and 
came out unwounded, he had full opportunity, after the 
battle closed, to verify his figures. He certainly could 
have no object in exaggerating the English loss, for the 
tendency of all officers is to underrate the casualties in 
their army. And Captain Parker says, further: "Had it 
not been that St. Ruth fell, it were hard to say how 

354 The People's History of Ireland 

matters would have ended, for, to do him justice, not- 
withstanding his oversight at Athlone, he was certainly 
a gallant, brave man, and a good officer, as appeared by 
the disposition he made of his army this day .... His 
centre and right wing [after his fall] still held their 
ground, and had he lived to order Sarsfield down to sus- 
tain his left wing, it would have given a turn to affairs 
on that side" "or," O'Callaghan says in comment, "in 
other words, have given the victory to the Irish." 

Lord Macaulay anti-Irish as all his writings prove 
him to have been says in his "History of England": 
"Those [the Irish] works were defended with a reso- 
lution such as extorted some words of ungracious eulogy 
even from men who entertained the strongest prejudices 
against the Celtic race." He then quotes Baurnett, Story, 
and, finally, the London "Gazette," of July, 1691, which 
said : "The Irish were never known to fight with more 

In his interesting, but partial, "Life of William III," 
published in the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
Mr. Harris, a fierce anti- Jacobite, says : "It must, in jus- 
tice, be confessed that the Irish fought this sharp battle 
with great resolution, which demonstrates that the many 
defeats before this sustained by them can not be imputed 
to a national cowardice with which some, without reason, 
impeached them; but to a defect in military discipline 
and the use of arms, or to a want of skill and experience 
in their commanders. And now, had not St. Ruth been 
taken off, it would have been hard to say what the con- 
sequence of this day would have been." 

Now we will give a few comments of the Irish his- 
torians upon this Hastings of their country : O'Halloran, 

The People's History of Ireland 355 

who was born about the time the battle was fought, and 
who, as a native of Limerick, must have been, at least, 
as familiar with soldiers who fought in the Wiljiamite 
wars as we are with the Union and Confederate veterans, 
in Vol. i, page 106, of his "History of Ireland," replying 
to some slurs cast by the Frenchman, Voltaire, on the 
Irish people, says : "He should have recollected that, at 
the battle of Aughrim, 15,000 Irish, ill paid and worse 
clothed, fought with 25,000 men highly appointed and 
the flower of all Europe, composed of English, Dutch, 
Flemings, and Danes, vicing with each other. That, 
after a most bloody fight of some hours, these began to 
shrink on all sides, and would have received a most com- 
plete overthrow but for the treachery of the commander 
of the Irish horse, and the death of their general [St. 
Ruth] killed by a random shot." 

On pages 532-533 of the same work, the historian says : 
"Sir John Dalrymple tells us that [at Aughrim] the 
priests ran up and down amongst the ranks, swearing 
some on the sacrament, encouraging others, and promis- 
ing eternity to all who should gallantly acquit themselves 
to their country that day. Does he mean this by way of 
apology for the intrepidity of the Irish, or to lessen the 
applause they were so well entitled to on that day ? Have 
they required more persuasions to fight the battles of 
foreign princes than the native troops, or are they the 
only soldiers who require spiritual comfort on the day 
of trial ? I never thought piety was a reproach to soldiers, 
and it was, perhaps, the enthusiasm of Oliver's troops 
that made them so victorious. This battle was, certainly, 
a bloody and decisive one. The stake was great, the 
Irish knew the value of it, and, though very inferior to 

356 The People's History of Ireland 

their enemies in numbers and appointments, and cha- 
grined by repeated losses, yet it must be owned they fought 
it well. Accidents which human wisdom could not fore- 
see, more than the superior courage of their flushed ene- 
mies, snatched from them that victory, which already 
began to declare in their favor. Their bones yet (1744) 
lie scattered over the plains of Aughrim, but let that 
justice be done to their memories which a brave and 
generous enemy never refuses." 

Abbe McGeoghegan, who wrote about 1745, and was 
chaplain of the Franco-Irish Brigade, says in his "His- 
tory of Ireland," page 603 : "The battle began at one 
o'clock, with equal fury on both sides, and lasted till 
night. James's infantry performed prodigies of valor, 
driving the enemy three times back to their cannon." 

Rev. Thomas Leland, an Irish Protestant divine, who 
published a history of Ireland about 1763, after describ- 
ing the catastrophe which befell St. Ruth, says: "His 
[St. R.'s] cavalry halted, and, as they had no orders, 
returned to their former station. The Irish beheld this 
retreat with dismay ; they were confounded and disor- 
dered. Sarsfield, upon whom the command devolved, 
had been neglected by the proud Frenchman ever since 
their altercation at Athlone. As the order of battle had 
not been imparted to him, he could not support the dis- 
positions of the late general. The English, in the mean- 
time, pressed forward, drove the enemy to their camp, 
pursued the advantage until the Irish, after an engage- 
ment supported with the fairest prospect of success, 
while they had a 'general to direct their valor, fled 

The Right Rev. Dr. Fitzgerald, Episcopalian bishop, 

The People's History of Ireland 357 

in his "History of Limerick," published some sixty years 
ago, says : "It [Aughrim] was the bravest battle ever 
fought on Irish soil." The bishop, evidently, had not 
read the lives of Art MacMurrough, Hugh O'Neill, Hugh 
O'Donnell, and Owen Roe O'Neill, when he penned the 

"Such," writes O'Callaghan, at the conclusion of his 
account of it, in the "Green Book," page 230, "was the 
battle of Aughrim, or Kilconnell, as the French called it, 
from the old abbey to the left of the Irish position; a 
battle unsuccessful, indeed, on the side of the Irish, but 
a Chaeronea, or a Waterloo, fought with heroism and 
lost without dishonor." 

A. M. Sullivan, in his fascinating "Story of Ireland" 
(American edition, page 458), says, or rather, quotes 
from a Williamite authority: "The Irish infantry were 
so hotly engaged that they were not aware either of the 
death of St. Ruth or of the flight of the cavalry, until 
they themselves were almost surrounded. A panic and 
confused flight were the result. The cavalry of the right 
wing, who were the first in action that day, were the last 
to quit the ground. ... St. Ruth fell about sunset 
[8.10], and about 9, after three hours' [nearer four 
hours'] hard fighting, the last of the Irish army [who 
were not killed, wounded, or captured] had left the field." 

John Boyle, in his "Battlefields of Ireland," quotes 
Taylor, an English military author who fought at Augh- 
rim, as saying : "Those [the Irish dead] were nearly all 
killed after the death of St. Ruth, for, up to that, the 
Irish had lost scarcely a man;" and, says he, further, 
"large numbers were murdered, after surrender and prom- 
ise of quarter, by order of General Ginkel, and among 

358 The People's History of Ireland 

those, so murdered, in cold blood, were Colonel O'Moore 
and that most loyal gentleman and chivalrous soldier, 
Lord Galway." This same able writer, in concluding 
his graphic story of the famous battle, remarks, with in- 
dignant eloquence : "It is painful to speculate on the cause 
that left the Irish army without direction after the death 
of St. Ruth. Many have endeavored to explain it, but 
all as well those who doubt Sarsfield's presence on the 
field as those who maintain the contrary are lost in con- 
jecture, and none who participated in the battle, and sur- 
vived it, has placed the matter beyond speculation. So 
leaving that point as time has left it, what appears most 
strange in the connection is the absence of all command 
at such a conjuncture. The disposition of the Irish troops, 
though dexterous, was simple. The day was all but 
won. The foiling of Talmash (Mackay) would have 
been the completion of victory. A force sufficient was 
on his front; a reserve more than ample to overwhelm 
him was on its way to the ground nay, drawn up and 
even ready for the word. The few British troops that 
held a lodgment in the hedges, at the base of the hill, 
were completely at the mercy of those above them. It 
required no omniscient eye to see this, nor a voice from 
the clouds to impel them forward, and, surely, no mili- 
tary etiquette weighed a feather in opposition to the fate 
of a nation. Any officer of note could have directed the 
movement, and many of experience and approved courage 
witnessed the crisis. Yet, in this emergency, all the hard- 
won laurels of the day were tarnished, and land and lib- 
erty were lost by default! Nor can the rashness of St. 
Ruth, his reticence as to his plans, his misunderstanding 
with Sarsfield, nor the absence of the latter, justify the 

The People's History of Ireland 359 

want of intrepid action among those present. This 
stands unexplained and inexplicable, nor will the flippant 
appeal to Providence, whose ways are too frequently of- 
fered as an excuse for human misconduct, answer here. 
The want of ammunition at such a moment was, no doubt, 
of some import, but the concurrence of events too plainly 
indicates that Aughrim was won by the skill of St. Ruth 
and the gallantry of his troops, and that it was lost 
through want of decision in his general officers, at a mo- 
ment the most critical in the nation's history." 

De Ginkel's army remained in the neighborhood of 
the field of battle long enough to give it an opportunity 
of burying all of the Irish dead, were it so disposed. The 
country-people remained away, in terror of their lives 
and poor belongings particularly cattle until decom- 
position had so far advanced as to make the task of sepul- 
ture particularly revolting. And thus it came to pass 
that nearly all the Irish slain were left above ground, "ex- 
posed to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; 
many dogs frequenting the place afterward, and growing 
so fierce by feeding upon man's flesh that it became dan- 
gerous for any single man to pass that way. And," 
continues Story in his narrative so frequently quoted, 
"there is a true and remarkable story of a greyhound 
[meaning the large, rapacious, and ferocious, Irish Wolf 
Dog that existed in those days, although extinct since 
the last century] belonging to an Irish officer: the gen- 
tleman was killed and stripped in the battle, whose body 
the dog remained by night and day, and tho' he fed 
on other corps [es] with the rest of the dogs, yet he 
would not allow them, or anything else, to touch that of 
his master. When all the corps [es] were consumed, the 

360 The People's History of Ireland 

other dogs departed, but he used to go in the night to the 
adjacent villages for food, and presently to return again 
to the place where his master's bones were only then left ; 
and thus he continued till January following, when one 
of Colonel Foulk's soldiers, being quartered nigh hand, 
and going that way by chance, the dog, fearing he came 
to disturb his master's bones, flew upon the soldier, who, 
being surprised at the suddenness of the thing, unslung 
his piece, then upon his back, and killed the poor dog." 
Ireland's national poet, Thomas Moore, in the beauti- 
ful words, set to that weirdly mournful air : "The Lam- 
entation of Aughrim," thus pours out in deathless mel- 
ody the heart of his unfortunate country: 

"Forget not the field where they perished, 

The truest ; the last of the brave 
All gone and the bright hopes we cherished 
Gone with them and sunk in the grave. 

"Oh, could we from death but recover 
Those hearts as they bounded before, 
In the face of high heaven to fight over 
That combat for freedom once more. 

"Could the chain for a moment be riven 

Which Tyranny flung round us then 
No, 'tis not in man, nor in heaven, 
To let Tyranny bind it again ! 

"But 'tis past; and tho' blazoned in story 

The name of our victor may be; 
Accurst is the march of that glory 
Which treads on the hearts of the free! 

"Far dearer the grave, or the prison, 

Illumed by one patriot name, 
Than the trophies of all who have risen 
On liberty's ruin to fame!" 



Second Siege of Limerick Terrific Bombardment The English, 

Aided by Treachery, Cross the Shannon Massacre of 

Thomond Bridge 

THE decisive battle having been lost by Ireland, what 
followed in this campaign became almost inevitable. 
Louis XIV and his ministers were criminally culpable in 
encouraging the Irish people to resistance when they did 
not mean to give them effective aid. Ireland had proved, 
in breach and field, that she needed no foreign troops to 
do her fighting, but she badly needed arms, ammunition, 
quartermaster's supplies, and a money-chest. Perhaps the 
egotism of the French monarch and his advisers led them 
to underrate the importance of Ireland as a factor in the 
affairs of Europe, and the slanders of the perfidious Lau- 
zun and his lieutenants had poisoned the mind of the ruler 
of France in regard to Irish valor. James, in his panic 
flight, had also carried with him to the French court a 
most unfavorable impression, and some Irish writers 
among them Mr. Boyle aver that Louis bitterly reproached 
the fallen king for his ignominious abandonment of Ire- 
land after the affair of the Boyne. James, however, man- 
aged to conciliate his haughty cousin, and the latter made 
him still more promises of effective assistance. 

De Ginkel, whose immediate objective, as before the 
great battle, was Galway, broke up his camp at Aughrim 
and marched to Loughrea, on July 16. He reached Ath- 
enry the following day, and Oranmore on the i8th. At 
this point he learned that Lord Dillon was Governor of 


364 The People's History of Ireland 

jt ** . 

Galway town, and that the French general, D'Usson, com- 
manded the garrison. Baal Dearg O'Donnell, with what 
remained of his irregular force, hovered about the city, 
but failed to throw himself into it. It has been stated, 
on seemingly good authority, that the Irish officials with- 
in the town distrusted him, as, indeed, was not unreason- 
able, seeing that Chaplain Story tells us that "his [O'Don- 
nell's] design was to keep amongst the mountains till he 
could make terms for himself, upon which account he writ 
[wrote] the general, De Ginkel, before our army removed 
from Galway." He followed up this treason in a practi- 
cal manner, and, some months later on, as the Chaplain 
circumstantially informs us, the adventurer entered the 
service of William in the Continental wars, and also re- 
ceived a pension of 500 per annum, for life, from the 
English treasury. The same consideration was subse- 
quently given to Brigadier Henry Luttrell, on whom pop- 
ular Irish tradition has fixed the odium of having "sold 
the pass at Aughrim." It is certain that twenty-six years 
afterward, A.D. 1717, this treacherous "general of the Irish 
horse" was shot to death in a sedan chair, while being 
carried through the streets of Dublin. No doubt remains 
among the Irish people that the deed was done in reprisal 
for Luttrell's villanous conduct in the campaign of 1691, 
and some have gone so far as to charge him with having 
been the officer who ordered the Irish cavalry off the field 
immediately after the death of St. Ruth on Kilcommodan 

Galway, before which De Ginkel appeared on the iQth, 
after a respectable show of resistance, surrendered with the 
honors of war, and sundry liberal civil provisions, on the 
22d. On the 26th it was evacuated by the Irish garrison, 

The People's History of Ireland 365 

which marched to Limerick. This capitulation virtually 
ended Irish resistance in Connaught, except for the town of 
Sligo, which was stubbornly held by the gallant Sir Teague 
O'Regan, the hero of Charlemont, against a strong detach- 
ment of the English army, under Lord Granard, until the 
following September 16, when he, too, having done all that 
a brave commander might, yielded his post with honor, and 
was allowed to join the main Irish army in Limerick town. 
The adventurer, O'Donnell, assisted the English against 
Sligo. De Ginkel, after garrisoning Galway, moved toward 
Limerick by way of Athenry, Loughrea, Eyrecourt, Ban- 
agher Bridge, Birr, Nenagh, and Caherconlish, meeting 
but feeble resistance on his route. He halted at the last- 
mentioned place to refresh and reinforce his army, and to 
provide himself with a stronger siege train. This he finally 
brought up to the number of sixty "great guns," none of 
them less than a twelve-pounder, and about a score of mor- 
tars for the throwing of large shells. About this time, he is- 
sued several proclamations, and continued to do so through- 
out the subsequent operations, with the design of seducing 
the Irish officers and soldiers from their allegiance to a 
desperate cause. In this effort he was by no means suc- 
cessful, but several clever Irish spies passed themselves off 
as deserters, and gave him plenty of misinformation re- 
garding the condition of affairs at Limerick. While in 
this camp at Caherconlish, the Dutch general's attention was 
called to the cupidity of fhe sutlers and other camp-follow- 
ers, who appear to have been as greedy and conscienceless 
as their successor of our own times. The gossipy Chaplain 
informs us, in this connection, that General Ginkel "sent out 
an order that all ale from Dublin and Wicklow should be 
sold at 6 pence [12 cents] per quart; all other ale, coming 

366 The People's History of Ireland 

above forty miles, at 5 pence, and all under forty miles at 
4 pence ; white bread to be sold at 3 pence per pound ; brown 
bread at 2 pence; claret at 2 shillings and 6 pence, and 
Rhenish at 3 shillings [per quart] ; brandy at 12 shillings 
[$2.88] per gallon, etc. ; and that no person should presume 
to exceed these rates on the penalty of forfeiting all his 
goods, and suffering a month's imprisonment. But they 
promptly found out a trick for this," continues Mr. Story 
in disgust, "and called all drink that came to the camp 
Dublin or Wicklow ale!" This "touch of nature" shows 
how little mankind has changed in principle and practice 
after a lapse of more than six generations. 

De Ginkel appeared in front of Limerick on August 25, 
and the city was immediately invested on the south, east, 
and north. The Clare side, connected by Thomond Bridge 
with Englishtown, or King's Island, still remained unat- 
tacked, as no English force had passed the river. The Irish 
horse and dragoons were all quartered on that side, while 
the infantry garrisoned the threatened portions of the city. 

Notwithstanding the imposing array of Ginkel's superb 
army and powerful siege equipment as they approached 
the walls of their city, neither the people nor the garrison 
of Limerick seem to have been much concerned by the 
spectacle. The walls were much stronger than they had 
been in the previous siege, and the soldiers were seasoned 
to hardship and peril. D'Usson, the French lieutenant- 
general, was in chief command, with his fellow-countryman, 
general, the Chevalier De Tesse, second, and Sarsfield, it ap- 
pears from the order of signature in the subsequent treaty, 
was third in rank, with the Scotch general, Wauchop, 
fourth. The Duke of Tyrconnel had died of apoplexy 
Story hints at poison administered in wine after dining 

The People's History of Ireland 367 

heartily with the French generals and other officers on 
August 14. The misfortunes of his country, in the opin- 
ion of many writers, had more to do with hastening the 
end than any other cause. His remains lie under a name- 
less flagstone in the aisle of St. Maudlin's church in Lim- 
erick, but we are informed not even Irish tradition, usually 
so minute, can point out the exact place of sepulture. The 
powerful English batteries, raking the town on three sides, 
poured in torrents of bombs and red-hot cannon balls, day 
and night, and the place caught fire at several points. Most 
of the women and children had to be removed to the cav- 
alry camp on the Clare bank, and the casualties among the 
defenders were numerous. The Irish replied spiritedly, 
but they were very deficient in weight of metal, and, also, 
because of the comparative shortness of supply, had to be 
sparing of their ammunition, whereas the English were 
always sure of a fresh supply both from the interior and 
their men-of-war on the adjacent coasts. The Chaplain, 
under date of September 8, 1691, relates how the "new 
batteries were all ready one to the left with ten field-pieces 
to shoot red-hot ball; another to the right of 25 guns, all 
24 and i8-pounders; and in the centre were placed 8 mor- 
tars, from 18^4 to 10^2 inches in diameter; these stood 
all together on the northeast of the town, nigh the island : 
then there were 8 guns of 1 2-pound ball each, planted at 
Mackay's fort, and some also toward the river on the 
southwest, where the Danes were posted. These fell to 
work all the time and put the Irish into such a fright [more 
partisan venom] that a great many of them wished them- 
selves at another place, having never heard such a noise 
before, nor I hope never shall in that kingdom." 

Three days later the reverend chronicler tells us that 

368 The People's History of Ireland 

"the breach was widened at least forty paces, and, floats 
being prepared, there were great debates amongst the chief 
officers whether it should be attempted by storm. . . . 
Though indeed we could not do the enemy a greater pleas- 
ure, nor ourselves a greater prejudice, in all probability, 
than in seeking to carry the town by a breach, before those 
within [the Irish, to wit] were more humbled, either by 
sword or sickness." No finer tribute than this, coming 
from such a source, could be paid to Irish constancy and 
courage, after such treasons and disasters as marked the 
capture of Athlone and the loss of Aughrim. 

Thoroughly convinced that he could not hope to carry 
Limerick by direct assault, De Ginkel now resolved to test 
the never-failing weapon of treachery and surprise on this 
stubborn foe. He had information that there was a strong 
peace-at-any-price party within the town, and that, could 
he but land a strong force on the Clare bank of the Shan- 
non, the city would speedily capitulate. He, therefore, de- 
termined to construct, in all secrecy, a pontoon bridge across 
the river above St. Thomas Island, near a place called 
Annaghbeg, where Brigadier Robert Clifford commanded 
a strong body of Irish dragoons and infantry, quite suffi- 
cient, if only properly directed, to foil any hostile move- 
ment. On the night of the I5th of September, the bridge 
was laid the most favorable point having been revealed 
by some fishermen, who, the historian O'Callaghan relates, 
were bribed to betray their country. It is much more prob- 
able, however, that they were forced to turn traitors under 
threat of death. However, on the morning of the i6th the 
bridge was completed and a formidable English force of 
horse and foot, under Generals Talmash and Scravenmore, 
succeeded in crossing. Apparently taken by surprise al- 

The People's History of Ireland 369 

though distinctly charged with treason by numerous Irish 
historians General Clifford, at this important juncture, 
displayed neither zeal, courage, nor capacity. He brought 
his men up in a state of unreadiness and in detachments, 
instead of in a solid formation, and, of course, was easily 
put to rout. To show the criminal carelessness, to say no 
worse, of this commander, his cavalry horses were "out at 
grass" two miles from his camp, when the English attack 
was made! Such "generalship" would have demoralized 
an army of Spartans, and the Irish rank and file can hardly 
be blamed if, on this occasion, they did not manifest their 
customary intrepidity. Europe never beheld in the field a 
braver body of men than King James's Irish army, and 
the world never furnished a more incompetent staff of gen- 
eral officers, whether French or Irish, than that which com- 
manded and, finally, wrecked it. We wish to except St. 
Ruth and Sarsfield and Boisseleau, who were able and gal- 
lant soldiers, thoroughly devoted to the cause in which 
they had embarked. De Ginkel's bold movement resulted 
in the partial turning of Thomond Bridge the key to King's 
Island and the capture of St. Thomas Island, another im- 
portant Irish post above the city. He, therefore, felt justi- 
fied in issuing, that same day, a proclamation inviting the 
garrison of Limerick to surrender on honorable conditions, 
but the Irish, although now under a veritable rain of fire 
and iron from every point of the compass, paid no heed to 
it, whereat the phlegmatic, but skilful, Dutch strategist 
greatly marveled. 

But, although the river had been successfully passed, Gin- 
kel was so discouraged by the firm countenance of the Irish 
garrison that he called a Council of War on the i /th, when 
it was, at first, decided to cross the whole English army 

370 The People's History of Ireland 

into Clare, destroy the Irish resources of food and forage 
in that county, and then convert the siege into a blockade 
that might last indefinitely. Reflection, however, changed 
this decision. Winter was approaching, and the wet Irish 
winter meant wholesale death to the soft and pampered En- 
glish and their foreign allies. Ginkel, then, resolved to 
again try his favorite manoeuvre a turning movement. 
Accordingly, on September 22, at the head of the greater 
portion of the allied army, he crossed the pontoon bridge 
and, commanding in person, made a sudden and tremendous 
attack on the small fort which commanded Thomond 
Bridge, and was garrisoned by about 800 Irish soldiers. 
The English cannon soon covered this fort with red-hot 
projectiles. Everything inflammable in the soldiers' quar- 
ters caught fire, and the desperate garrison made a sortie 
with the object of crossing into King's Island by Thomond 
Bridge. The connection was by means of a draw. A lit- 
tle over a hundred of the Irish had crossed in safety, when 
the French major in command at the drawbridge, fearing, 
it is said, that the English might enter the town with the 
fugitives, caused it suddenly to be raised. The men behind 
were not able to see what had happened, and the foremost 
ranks that stood on the western abutment were forced over 
the gulf and nearly all perished in the river. The others 
put up white handkerchiefs in token of surrender, but the 
savage victors showed no mercy. Story, who saw the whole 
sickening butchery, paints the scene in ghastly fashion 
thus : "Before the killing was over, they [the Irish] were 
laid in heaps upon the bridge, higher than the ledges of 
it." Out of 800 men, only the five score and odd that 
gained the drawbridge in time, and the few strong ones 
who swam the river, escaped. It, on a smaller scale, re- 

The People's History of Ireland 371 

sembled the disaster at Leipsic, in 1813, when the French 
Major of Engineers, Montfort, caused the bridge over the 
Elster to be blown up, while yet the corps of MacDonald 
and Poniatowski, which formed Napoleon's rearguard, were 
on the hostile bank of the river. Thus, through the stu- 
pidity, or panic, of a subordinate officer, the emperor lost 
the Polish marshal, who was one of his best generals, 
and 20,000 of his choicest troops. A fool or coward com- 
manding at a bridge over which an army is compelled to 
retreat, is more deadly to his friends than all the bulleti 
and sabres of the enemy. 


Capitulation of Limerick Terms of the Famous "Violated Treaty" 
Cork Harbor Tragedy 

THE Irish cavalry, which would seem to have been 
inefficiently commanded by General Sheldon during 
the late operations, and now completely outnumbered, fell 
back to Six-Mile-Bridge in Clare, dejected and almost hope- 
less. The men had lost faith in their commanders, and 
that meant a speedy end of effective resistance. When it 
became known in Limerick that the enemy had been 
successful beyond the river, the peace party began again 
to clamor loudly for a capitulation. A party eager for sur- 
render within a beleaguered city is the very best ally a be- 
sieging force can have. In this case, their treason or pusil- 
lanimity proved the destruction of their country. De Ginkel 
had positive information that a great French fleet, under 
a renowned admiral, Count Chateau-Renaucl, was fitting out 
at Brest for the relief of Limerick. Therefore he was ready 
to promise almost anything in order to gain the timely sur- 

37 2 The People's History of Ireland 

render of the place, for he knew that if the French once 
landed in force, all the fruits of his recent victories would be 
irretrievably spoiled. The buoyant Irish would rally again 
more numerously than ever, better drilled, equipped, and 
thoroughly inured to war. His good opinion of their 
fighting qualities was unequivocally shown in his eagerness 
to enlist them as soldiers under the banner of King William. 
He felt morally certain that Sarsfield and the other chief 
Irish officers were entirely ignorant of the preparations 
going on in France. They imagined themselves absolutely 
deserted by that power. Irish tradition credits General Sars- 
field with a disposition to hold out to the last, while it is 
believed, on the same rather unreliable authority, that the 
French generals, D'Usson and De Tesse, favored an hon- 
orable and immediate surrender. It is certain that most 
of the Anglo-Irish officers were tired of the war and desired 
to have an end of it on any reasonable terms. Ginkel was 
still over the river in Clare, when, on the evening of Septem- 
ber 23, the Irish drums, from several points in the town, 
beat a parley. The siege had lasted almost a month, and 
the English officers were delighted at the near prospect of 
peace. They received Sarsfield, Wauchop, and their escort, 
under a flag of truce, with military courtesy, and directed 
them where to find the general-in-chief. The Irish officers 
crossed the Shannon in a rowboat, and found Ginkel in his 
camp by Thomond Bridge. He received them favorably, 
and a temporary cessation of hostilities was agreed upon. 
Next morning, it was decided to extend it three days. Then 
it was determined that the Irish officers and commands sep- 
arated from the Limerick garrison should be communicated 
with, and that all, if terms were agreed upon, would sur- 
render simultaneously. Meanwhile the English and Irish 

The People's History of Ireland 373 

officers exchanged courtesies and frequently dined together, 
although the French generals held aloof, for some reason 
that has never been satisfactorily explained. 

But now the ultra peace party having, in a measure, the 
upper hand, sought to commit the Irish army to a dishon- 
orable and ungrateful policy the abandonment of France, 
which, with all its faults, was Ireland's sole ally. Hostages 
were exchanged by the two armies, those for England being 
Lord Cutts, Sir David Collier, Colonel Tiffin, and Colonel 
Piper; and for Ireland Lords Westmeath, Iveagh (whose 
entire regiment afterward passed over to William), Trim- 
elstown, and Louth. Following the arrival of the latter in 
the English camp came the peace party's proposals, which 
stipulated for the freedom of Catholic worship and the 
maintenance of civil rights, and then basely proposed that 
"the Irish army be kept on foot, paid, et cetera, the same as 
the rest of their majesties' forces, in case they were will- 
ing to serve their majesties against France or any other 

The Irish army, nobly chivalrous and patriotic, with the 
usual base exceptions to be found in every considerable 
body of men, was not willing "to serve their majesties" as 
intimated, as will be seen further along. Ginkel, who was 
thoroughly coached by the "royal commissioners" from 
Dublin, who were rarely absent from his camp, rejected the 
Palesmen's propositions, chiefly because of the Catholic 
claims put forward in them. There is no evidence what- 
ever that Sarsfi^ld countenanced the policy attempted to be 
carried out by this contemptible faction. 

On the 28th all the parties in Limerick town came to an 
agreement in regard to what they would propose to and ac- 
cept from De Ginkel. The latter, who was quite a diplomatic 

374 The People's History of Ireland 

as well as military "bluffer," began openly to prepare his bat- 
teries for a renewal of the bombardment the three days' 
cessation having nearly come to an end. But, on the day 
stated, there came to him, from out of Limerick, Generals 
Sarsfield (Lord Lucan), Wauchop, the Catholic Primate, 
Baron Purcell, the Archbishop of Cashel, Sir Garret Dillon, 
Sir Theobald ("Toby") Butler, and Colonel Brown, "the 
three last counselors-at-law, with several other officers and 
commissioners." Baron De Ginkel summoned all of his 
chief generals to meet them, and "after a long debate, ar- 
ticles were agreed on, not only for the town of Limerick, but 
for all the other forts and castles in the kingdom, then in 
the enemies' possession." In compliance with the wish of 
the Irish delegation, De Ginkel agreed to summon the 
Lords Justices from Dublin to ratify the treaty. These 
functionaries, authoritatively representing King William 
and Queen Mary, soon arrived at the camp and signed the 
instrument in due form. The French generals, although 
they did not accompany the Irish commissioners on their 
visit to Ginkel, signed the terms of capitulation with the 
rest, the names appearing in the following order : D'Usson, 
Le Chevelier de Tesse, Latour Monfort, Mark Talbot, Lu- 
can (Sarsfield), Jo Wauchop, Galmoy, M. Purcell. For 
England there signed Lords Justices Charles Porter and 
Thomas Conyngsby, Baron De Ginkel, and Generals Scra- 
venmore, Mackay, and Talmash. 

The Treaty of Limerick was thus consummated on Oc- 
tober 3, 1691, with all the required forms and ceremonies, 
so that no loophole of informality was left for either party 
to this international compact. In the treaty there were 29 
military and 13 civil articles. As they were quite lengthy, 
we will confine ourselves to a general summary, thus: 

The People's History of Ireland 375 

All the adherents of King James in Ireland were given 
permission to go beyond the seas to any country they might 
choose to live in, except England and Scotland. Volunteers 
and rapparees were included in this provision, as well as the 
officers and soldiers of the Irish regular army. These vol- 
untary exiles were allowed to depart from Ireland in "whole 
bodies, companies, or parties; and it was provided that, if 
plundered by the way, the English Government would grant 
compensation for such losses as they might sustain. It was 
agreed that fifty ships of 200 tons burden each should be 
provided for their transportation, and twenty of the same 
tonnage in addition, if it should be found necessary, and 
that "said ships should be furnished with forage for horses 
and all necessary provisions to subsist the officers, troopers, 
dragoons, and [foot] soldiers, and all other persons [mean- 
ing families and followers] that are shipped to be transported 
into France." In addition, two men-of-war were placed 
at the disposal of the principal officers for the voyage, and 
suitable provision was made for the safe return of all ves- 
sels when their mission of transportation was accomplished. 
The thrifty De Ginkel further stipulated that the provisions 
supplied to the military exiles should be paid for by their 
government as soon as the Irish troops were landed on 
French soil. Article XXV provided : "That it shall be law- 
ful for the said garrison [of Limerick] to march out at once, 
or at different times, as they can be embarked, with arms, 
baggage, drums beating, match lighted at both ends, bullet 
in mouth, colors flying, six brass guns, such as the besieged 
shall choose, two mortar pieces, and half the ammunition 
that is now in the magazines of the said place." This pro- 
vision, which, as can be seen, included the full "honors of 
war," was also extended to the other capitulated Irish garri- 

Ireland 17 Vol. I. 

The People's History of Ireland 

sons. Another significant provision was that all Irish offi- 
cers and soldiers who so desired could join the army of 
King William, retaining the rank and pay they enjoyed in 
the service of King James. 

Of the civil articles, the first read as follows: "The Ro- 
man Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges 
in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the 
laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of King 
Charles II; and their Majesties, as soon as their affairs 
will permit them to summon a Parliament in this kingdom, 
will endeavor to procure the said Roman Catholics such 
further security in that particular as may preserve them from 
disturbance upon the account of their said religion." 

The second article guaranteed protection in the possession 
of their estates and the free pursuit of their several profes- 
sions, trades, and callings to all who had served King James, 
the same as under his own regime, on the taking of the 

subjoined oath of allegiance prescribed by statute: "I 

do solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and 
bear true allegiance to their Majesties, King William and 
Queen Mary: so help me God." A subsequent article pro- 
vided that "the oath to be administered to such Roman 
Catholics as submit to their Majesties' government shall be 
the oath aforesaid and no other" thus doing away, as the 
Irish honestly supposed, with the odious penal "Test oaths," 
which were an outrage on Catholic belief and a glaring insult 
to the Catholics of the whole world. 

The third article extended the benefit of the first and 
second articles to Irish merchants "beyond the seas" who 
had not borne arms since the proclamation issued by Wil- 
liam and Mary in the preceding February, but they were 
required to return to Ireland within eight months. 

The People's History of Ireland 377 

Article IV granted like immunity to Irish officers in 
foreign lands, absent in pursuance of their military duties, 
and naming, specially, Colonel Simon Luttrell (the loyal 
brother of the traitor, Henry), Colonel Rowland White, 
Colonel Maurice Eustace, of Gormanstown, and Major 
Cheviers (Chevers) of Maystown, "commonly called Mount 

Article V provided that all persons comprised in the sec- 
ond and third articles should have general pardon for all 
"attainders, outlawries, treasons (?), misprisions of trea- 
sons, prsemunires, felonies, trespasses, and other crimes 
and misdemeanors whatsoever, committed by them, or any 
of them since the beginning of the reign of James II ; and 
if any of them are attainted by Parliament, the Lords Jus- 
tices and the General will use their best endeavors to get 
the same repealed by Parliament, and the outlawries to be 
reversed gratis, all but writing-clerk's fees." 

Article VI provided general immunity to both parties for 
debts or disturbances arising out of the late war. This 
provision applied also to rates and rents. 

Article VII provided that "every nobleman and gentle- 
man comprised in the second and third articles shall have 
liberty to ride with a sword and case of pistols, if they 
[sic] think fit, and keep a gun in their houses for the de- 
fence of the same, or for fowling." 

The eighth article granted leave to the inhabitants, or 
residents, of Limerick, and other Irish garrisons, to re- 
move their goods and chattels, if so disposed, without inter- 
ference, search, or the payment of duties, and they were 
privileged to remain in their lodgings for six weeks. 

The tenth article declared that "no person, or persons, 
who shall at any time hereafter break these articles, or 

378 The People's History of Ireland 

any of them, shall thereby make or cause any other person 
or persons to forfeit or lose the benefit of the same/' 

Article XII read thus : "The Lords Justices and the Gen- 
eral do undertake that their Majesties will ratify these ar- 
ticles within the space of three months, or sooner, and use 
their utmost endeavors that the same shall be ratified and 
confirmed in the Parliament." 

The thirteenth, and final, article made provision for the 
protection from financial loss of Colonel John Browne, 
commissary-general of the Irish army, who, during the 
war, had seized the property of certain Williamites for the 
public use, charging the debt, pro rata, on the Catholic 
estates secured to their owners under the treaty; and re- 
quiring General (Lord Lucan) to certify the account with 
Colonel Browne within 21 days. 

It will be remembered, in examining the religious pro- 
visions of the Treaty of Limerick, that Catholic worship 
in the reign of Charles II was permitted by connivance 
rather than by law. Many of the worst of the penal laws, 
although in abeyance, might be revived at any time by law 
officers tyrannically disposed toward the Catholics. The 
latter were once again to discover that it is one thing to 
obtain a favorable treaty from a formidable enemy, while 
they have arms in their hands and a still inviolate fortress 
at their backs, but quite a different matter to make the foe 
live up to the provisions of the treaty when the favorable 
conditions for the capitulators have passed away. But of 
this hereafter. 

Not many days subsequent to the surrender of Limerick, 
Count Chateau-Renaud, with a powerful French fleet, hav- 
ing on board arms, cannon, and all kinds of military sup- 
plies, together with a veteran contingent of 3,000 men and 

The People's History of Ireland 379 

200 officers, cast anchor in Dingle Bay, on the southern 
coast, without once coming in contact with the naval might 
of England. Were the Irish a dishonorable people, they 
could have then, with great advantage, repudiated the 
treaty, but the national honor was irrevocably plighted, 
and, consequently, there was an end of the struggle. Many 
honest Irish writers have blamed the precipitancy of Sars- 
field and the other leaders in signing the articles of capitu- 
lation, and not without good cause. Lord Lucan should 
have court-martialed and shot the leaders of the peace-at- 
any-price traitors when they first showed their hands. 
Hugh O'Neill, Red Hugh O'Donnell, or Owen Roe O'Neill 
would have done so without hesitation, but, then, Sarsfield 
was only half a Celt, and had an unfortunate tenderness 
for his fellows of the Pale. It is regrettable that none of 
the French generals has left a clear statement of the events 
that led to the premature surrender of the town; but we 
know that King Louis, who subsequently honored Sars- 
field, held D'Usson responsible, for Story tells us, on page 
280 of his "Continuation of the History of the Wars in 
Ireland," that "the French king [Louis XIV] was so far 
from thanking him for it [the capitulation] that, after 
some public indignities, he sent him to the Bastile." 

Viewed in the light of after events, the Treaty of Lim- 
erick, from the Irish standpoint, looks like a huge game 
of confidence, and is an ineradicable blot on English mili- 
tary and diplomatic honor. The civil articles were ignored, 
or trampled under foot, almost immediately. The military 
articles were better observed, except that provision which 
related to transportation to France, which was grossly vio- 
lated and led to the drowning in Cork Harbor of a number 
of the wives of the Irish soldiery, who, unable to find room 

380 The People's History of Ireland 

on board, owing to De Ginkel's alleged faithlessness, or 
the perfidy of his lieutenants, clung to the ropes, when the 
ships set sail, and were dragged beneath the waves to their 

Mitchel, in his able "History of Ireland," page 3, writ- 
ing of this painful incident, defends Sarsfield against an 
imputation cast upon that officer by Lord Macaulay, in his 
brilliant but unreliable "History of England," thus : "As to 
General Sarsfield's proclamation to the men 'that they should 
be permitted to carry their wives and families to France,* 
he made the statement on the faith of the First and several 
succeeding articles of the treaty, not yet being aware of any 
design to violate it. But this is not all : The historian who 
could not let the hero go into his sorrowful exile without 
seeking to plunge his venomous sting into his reputation, 
had before him the 'Life of King William/ by Harris, and 
also Curry's 'Historical Review of the Civil Wars,' wherein 
he must have seen that the Lords Justices and General 
Ginkel are charged with endeavoring to defeat the execu- 
tion of the First Article. For, says Harris, 'as great num- 
bers of the officers and soldiers had resolved to enter into 
the service of France, and to carry their families with them, 
Ginkel would not suffer their wives and children to be 
shipped off with the men, not doubting that by detaining the 
former he would have prevented many of the latter from 
going into that service. This, I say, was confessedly an 
infringement of the articles.' 

"To this we may add," continues Mitchel, "that no Irish 
officer or soldier in France attributed the cruel parting at 
Cork to any fault of Sarsfield, but always and only to a 
breach of the Treaty of Limerick. And if he had deluded 
them in the manner represented by the English historian, 

The People's History of Ireland 381 

they would not have followed him as enthusiastically [as 
they afterward did] on the fields of Steinkirk and Landen." 
Mr. Mitchel did Lord Macaulay an unintentional injus- 
tice in attributing the original charge against Sarsfield to 
him. It originated with Chaplain Story, and can be found 
on pages 291-293 of his Continuation, in these words: 
"Those [of the Irish] who were now embarking had not 
much better usage on this side of the water [he had alluded 
to the alleged ill-treatment of the first contingent on its ar- 
rival in France] , for a great many of them, having wives and 
children, they made what shift they could to desert, rather 
than leave their families behind to starve, which my Lord 
Lucan and Major-General Wauchop perceiving, they pub- 
lish a declaration that as many of the Irish as had a mind 
to't should have liberty to transport their families along 
with themselves. And, accordingly, a vast rabble of all 
sorts were brought to the water-side, when the major-gen- 
eral [Wauchop], pretending to ship the soldiers in order, 
according to their lists, they first carried all the men on 
board; and many of the women, at the second return of 
the boats for the officers, catching hold to be carried on 
board, were dragged off, and, through fearfulness, losing 
their hold, were drowned; but others who held faster had 
their fingers cut off, and so perished in sight of their hus- 
bands or relatives, tho' those of them that did get over [to 
France], would make but a sad figure, if they were ad- 
mitted to go to the late queen's court at St. Germain. . . . 
Lord Lucan finding he had ships enough for all the Irish 
that were likely to go with him, the number that went be- 
fore and these shipped at this time, being, according to the 
best computation, 12,000 of all sorts [a palpable underesti- 
mate], he signs the following releasement: 

382 Th* topic's History of Ireland 

" 'Whereas, by the Articles of Limerick, Lieutenant-Gen- 
cral Ginkel, commander-in-chief of the English army, did 
engage himself to furnish 10,000 tons of shipping for the 
transporting of such of the Irish forces to France as were 
willing to go thither ; and to facilitate their passage to add 
4,000 tons more in case the French fleet did not come to 
this kingdom to take off some of these forces; and whereas 
the French fleet has been upon the coast and carried away 
some of the said forces, and the lieutenant-general has pro- 
vided ships for as many of the rest as are willing to go as 
aforesaid, I do hereby declare that the said lieutenant-gen- 
eral is released from any obligation he lay under from the 
said articles, to provide vessels for that purpose, and do 
quit and renounce all farther claim and pretension on this 
account, etc. Witness my hand this 8th day of December, 
1691. " 'LUCAN. 

" Witnesses: 



From the same authority we learn that "on December 22, 
my Lord Lucan, and the rest of the Irish great officers, 
went on board the transport ships [bound for France], leav- 
ing hostages at Cork for the return of the said ships." 

It is impossible to reconcile the circumstantial statement 
of the Williamite historian, Harris, in regard to Ginkel's 
faithlessness, with the official document, signed by Sarsfield, 
as Earl of Lucan, which practically exonerates the Dutch 
general. Would Sarsfield have signed such a release if 
Ginkel had been guilty of the treachery ascribed to him by 
Harris? Story's book was published a year before Lord 
Lucan fell in Flanders, and must have been read by that 

The People's History of Ireland 383 

general and the officers who served with him at Limerick. 
One thing about the question is certain if Sarsfield ever is- 
sued the proclamation, in conjunction with General Wau- 
chop, ascribed to him by the English chaplain, he must have 
been grossly deceived by somebody. All writers of his own 
times, and of after times, describe Sarsfield as the soul of 
honor, but some have asserted that he was rather easy-going 
in business affairs, and a little too ready to sign any docu- 
ment placed before him. 

We have been unable to find any contemporary confirma- 
Jon of the romantic Irish tradition that the Treaty of Lim- 
erick was signed on the historic bowlder, now preserved by; 
pedestal and railing near Thomond Bridge, on the Clare 
bank of the Shannon. But tradition is often more accurate 
than written history. Therefore, the Irish people having 
accepted the story through more than six generations, we 
accept with them the legend of "the Treaty Stone." 


The Irish Troops, as a Majority, Enter the French Service King 

James Receives Them Cordially His Testimony of Their 

Devotion and Courage 

IMMEDIATELY after the signing of the treaty, it was 
1 fixed upon between De Ginkel and Sarsfield that, on Oc- 
tober 6, the Irish infantry would march out of the King's 
Island by Thomond Bridge, into the County Clare, and there 
and then make a choice of service with England or France. 
It was arranged that those who chose the former service 
were to turn to the left at a certain point, where an English 
flag was planted, while those who decided for France were 
to march straight onward to a more distant point marked 
by the French standard. They were, in all, about 15,000 

384 The People's History of Ireland 

men, and, quite naturally, the respective leaders awaited the 
result with burning anxiety. They were not left long 
in doubt The first body to march was the Royal Irish 
regiment of Foot Guards, fourteen hundred strong, of which 
Mr. Story remarks wofully, it "seemed to go all entire 
[for France] except seven men, which the general was 
much concerned at, then my Lord Iveagh's regiment of 
Ulster Irish came off entire to our side." In all a little over 
1,000 officers and men ranged themselves under the flag of 
King William, while nearly 13,000 mustered under the 
Fleur-de-Lis. A few days afterward, the Irish horse, now 
much reduced, made choice in the same fashion, and with 
about the same proportionate result. The same privilege 
was granted the outlying bodies of King James's army, and 
all decided for France in the proportion of about ten to one. 
Of the Irish general officers, more or less under the sus- 
picion of the army since the disasters of Aughrim and 
Annaghbeg, we find Generals Luttrell and Clifford, Baron 
Purcell, "and a great many more of the Irish nobility and 
gentry going toward Dublin," which means that they made 
terms with the enemy. 

It was well along in the month of December before the 
Irish soldiers who had volunteered to go beyond the seas 
were entirely transported to France. The foot, for the most 
part, sailed from Limerick, many of them in the returning 
fleet of Chateau-Renaud, and the cavalry from Cork, where 
occurred the tragical event we have already related. In all 
including the capitulated troops from every Irish garri- 
son 20,000 men from Ireland landed in the French ports, 
and these, together with Mountcashel's Brigade, which had 
been in the French service since before the battle of the 
Boyne, made up a force of 25,000 veterans, who were 

The People's History of Ireland 385 

mostly in the pay of King Louis, but all of whom were 
sworn to support King James in any effort he might put 
forth to recover his crown. 

As much injustice has been done the memory of King 
James II by Irish writers, who have taken too much for 
granted on traditional "hearsay," we deem it only fair to 
place before the readers of this history the sentiments of 
the unfortunate monarch toward his Irish defenders. We 
quote from his Memoirs, Vol. II, pp. 465-467: "Thus was 
Ireland [he alluded to the fall of Limerick], after an obsti- 
nate resistance in three years' campaigns, by the power and 
riches of England, and the revolt of almost all its [Ireland's] 
own Protestant subjects torn from its natural sovereign, 
who, tho' he was divested of the country, was not wholly 
deprived of the people, for the greatest part of those who 
were then in arms for the defence of his right, not content 
with the service already rendered, got leave [as was said] 
to come and lose their lives, after having lost their estates, 
in defence of his title, and brought by that means such a body 
of men into France as by their generous comportment in ac- 
cepting the pay of the country [much less than British or 
Irish pay] instead of that which is usually allowed there 
[in France] to strangers and their inimitable valor and ser- 
vice during the whole course of the war, might justly make 
their prince pass for an ally, rather than a pensioner, or 
burden, to his Most Christian Majesty, whose pay, indeed, 
they received, but acted by the king's, their master's, com- 
mission, according to the common method of other auxiliary 
troops. As soon as the king [James] heard of their arrival 
[in France] he writ to the commander [General Sheldon, 
who went with the first contingent] to assure him how 
well he was satisfied with the behavior and conduct of the 

386 The People's History of Ireland 

officers, and the valor and fidelity of the soldiers, and how 
sensible he should ever be of their service, which he would 
not fail to reward When it should please God to put him 
in a capacity of doing it." 

Following is the full text of the letter addressed to the 
Irish troops through their general by King James, as given 
in Story's Continuation, page 289 : 


"Having been informed of the capitulation and surren- 
der of Limerick, and the other places which remained to 
us in our Kingdom of Ireland, and of the necessities which 
forced the Lords Justices and general officers of our forces 
thereunto: we will not defer to let you know, and the rest 
of the officers that came along with you, that we are ex- 
tremely satisfied with your and their conduct, and of the 
valor of the soldiers during the siege, but most particularly 
of your and their declaration and resolution to come and 
serve where we are. And we assure you, and order you 
to assure both officers and soldiers that are come along with 
you, that we shall never forget this act of loyalty, nor fail, 
when in a capacity to give them, above others, particular 
marks of our favor. In the meantime, you are to inform 
them that they are to serve under our command, and by 
our commissions; and if we find that a considerable num- 
ber [of them] is come with the fleet, it will induce us to 
go personally to see them, and regiment them : Our brother, 
the King of France, hath already given orders to clothe 
them and furnish them with all necessaries, and to give 
them quarters of refreshment. So we bid you heartily 

"Given at our Court at St. Germain the 27th of Novem- 
ber [Dec. 7], 1691." 

The People's History of Ireland 387 

In pursuance of his promise, King- James made two 
fatiguing trips from St. Germain to Bretagne and return, 
regimented the gallant exiles at Vannes, Brest, and other 
points, and in every possible way showed his marked ap- 
preciation of their devotion. He was accompanied by his 
son, the Duke of Berwick. 

In accepting French pay, the Irish soldiery exposed them- 
selves almost to penury, and their officers submitted to be 
reduced in rank, almost without a murmur. Major-gen- 
erals became colonels; colonels, captains; captains, lieuten- 
ants, and many of the latter sergeants. This was abso- 
lutely necessary, as there was room for only a certain num- 
ber in the French establishment. Many reduced officers 
served also as volunteers, without pay of any kind, wait- 
ing patiently for death or promotion. The total amount of 
property sacrificed by these brave men in the Jacobite cause 
was 1,060,792 acres, and this new confiscation placed fully 
seven-eighths of the soil of Ireland in the hands of the sup- 
porters of the English interest. 

William and Mary formally ratified the Articles of the 
Treaty of Limerick within the specified three months, but 
the English Parliament, influenced by motives of greed and 
bigotry, shamefully refused to acquiesce, and as William 
and Mary did not endanger their crown by offering a 
vigorous opposition, the civil articles of Limerick were, from 
that moment, a dead letter. Then redescended on Ireland 
"the long, black night of the penal laws," and we gladly 
turn from it, for a period, to follow the brilliant but bloody 
fortunes of the Irish Brigade in the service of France. 

388 The People's History of Ireland 


Early Exploits of the Irish Brigade in the Service of France At 

Landen, Cremona, and Blenheim Tribute Paid it by an 

English Historian 

IN the preceding chapter we indicated that we would deal 
with the history of the Irish brigades in the French 
service, from 1692 to 1792, before touching on the ter- 
rible penal period in Ireland. Their services have won a 
fame so world-wide that no history of Europe is complete 
that omits them from its pages. They were prominently 
engaged in the reign of Louis XIV in the War of the 
League of Augsburg, which was hotly waged by nearly 
all Europe against him, from 1688 to the Peace of Rys- 
wick, in 1697 ; in the War of the Spanish Succession waged 
by Louis to support his grandson, Philip of Anjou, on the 
Spanish throne commenced in 1700 and concluded by the 
Peace of Utrecht and Treaty of Rastadt in 1713-14, and 
under Louis XV in numerous minor wars with Germany, 
and especially in the War of the Austrian Succession 
France supporting the claim of Charles VII, of Bavaria, 
against Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, daughter of 
the last Hapsburg Emperor of Germany, Charles VI. 
This war was begun in 1740. France took sides in 1743, 
and it was concluded by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 
1748. In each of these contests France and England were 
on opposite sides a circumstance favorable to the bloody 
development of Irish hatred. After the last of the wars 
specified, the Irish Brigade, having no warlike food on 
which to flourish, covered with laurels and "worn out with 
glory," faded from the fields of Europe. 

The People's History of Ireland 389 

In another place we have alluded to the campaign of 
Savoy, 1690-91, in which the ill-starred St. Ruth was chief 
in command. Mountcashel's, known as the "Old Brigade," 
scaled every Alpine fortress, drove the vengeful "Vaudois" 
from their rugged hills, and laid the country under fire and 
sword, leaving a reputation for military prowess fresh, at 
this day, amid the mountains of Savoy. 

In Flanders, in 1692, under Sarsfield and Lord Clare, 
the "New" Brigade won great honor at Steinkirk, where 
Luxemburg routed King William. At Landen, or Neer- 
winden, in July, 1693, William held his ground desperately 
against the bravest efforts of the French. Luxemburg 
was in despair, when the fierce war-cry, "Remember Lim- 
erick!" rent the clouds, and the Royal Irish Foot Guards, 
led by Colonel John Barrett, shattered the English centre, 
broke into Neerwinden, opened a path to victory for the 
French Household, and William was hurled into the river 
Gette, while the Irish shout of victory shook the plain like 
a clap of thunder. Sarsfield, like the brave Barrett, re- 
ceived his death wound, but his dying gaze beheld the 
sight he most loved to see the English flag in sullen 

This same year, in Italy, under Catinat, the "Old" Bri- 
gade made its mark at Marsaglia, where it defeated 
the Savoyard centre, drew the whole French army after 
it, and chased Victor Amadeus almost to the gates of 

Thenceforth, Lord Mountcashel having died of his 
wounds, the two brigades were united as one. The 
younger Schomberg, son of the hero of the Boyne, fell 
before the Irish bayonets at Marsaglia. At the battle of 
Montgry, in Spain, fought in 1694, by the French against 

390 The People's History of Ireland 

the Spanish, the "Brigade," under Marshal de Noailles, 
renewed its laurels, and the Irish charge proved potent in 
bringing the Spaniards to terms. 

This war terminated gloriously for France by the Peace 
of Ryswick. 

The War of the Spanish Succession broke out in 1700. 
England and Austria supported the Archduke Charles 
against Philip of Anjou, the Bourbon heir. This struggle 
brought upon the stage the Duke of Marlborough, for Eng- 
land, and Prince Eugene, of Savoy, for Austria, two of 
the greatest generals of modern times. Marshals, the Duke 
of Berwick, Catinat, Villeroy, Vendome, Villairs, Boufflers, 
and Noailles, commanded the armies of France. In this 
frightful struggle, the Irish flag always blazed in the van- 
guard of victory, in the rearguard of defeat, and the Irish 
name became the synonym of valor. 

In the winter of 1702, the citadel of Cremona, in northern 
Italy, was held for France by Marshal Villeroy, with a 
strong garrison. The French gave themselves up to revelry, 
and the walls were poorly guarded. Caissioli, an Italian, 
informed Prince Eugene, the Austrian commander, of the 
state of affairs. The traitor agreed to let in a portion of 
the enemy by means of a sewer running from outside the 
walls under his house. At the same time the French sen- 
tinels at the gate of St. Margaret, badly defended, were to 
be drawn off, so that Eugene himself, with a strong body 
of cuirassiers, might enter and join the other party. Count 
Merci was to attack the "Gate of the Po," defended by an 
Irish company, and Prince Vaudemont and Count Freiberg 
were to support the attack with the cavalry of their respec- 
tive commands. The attack was made at midnight, and the 
plans were admirably executed. The Austrians were in 

The People's History of Ireland 391 

possession of the town before the garrison was alarmed. 
Count Merci, however, met bad fortune at the "Gate of 
the Po." The Irish guard, chatting over old times by the 
Shannon, the Barrow, or the Suir, kept faithful watch. The 
clatter of hoofs aroused them, as Merci, attended by several 
regiments of dragoons, rode up to the gate and called upon 
them to surrender. The Irish replied with a sharp volley, 
which laid some of the Austrians out in the roadway. The 
fire aroused the sleeping Irish regiments of Dillon and 
Burke, who, in their shirts only, as they sprang from 
bivouac, grasped their muskets and hastened to the rescue. 
They were met in the square by Eugene's cuirassiers, who 
charged them fiercely. Major O'Mahoney formed his Irish 
into a square and let the Austrians have a fusillade. The 
cuirassiers, urged by Eugene and Freiberg, dashed madly 
at the Irish battalions, but, despite the bravest efforts of this 
iron cavalry, the Irish actually routed them and slew their 
leader, Baron Freiberg. Marshal Villeroy was made pris- 
oner by Macdonald, an Irishman in the Austrian service, 
and the French general second in command shared the same 
fate. But the Irish still held out, fighting desperately and 
losing half their men. This prolonged resistance alarmed 
the French, who now, thoroughly aroused, gallantly sec- 
onded their Irish comrades, and, after a terrible carnage of 
eight hours' duration, Prince Eugene, with all that remained 
of the flower of the Austrian cavalry, gave up in despair, and 
was hurled pell-mell through the gates of St. Margaret, by 
the victorious garrison. This exploit of the Irish saved 
northern Italy to the French monarch the Austrians re- 
treated to the Alps. All Europe rang applause. Louis 
raised the pay of his Irish troops, and made O'Mahoney 
a general. He also decreed that Irishmen, who deserved 

392 The People's History of Ireland 

the honor, should thenceforth be recognized as French citi- 
zens, without undergoing the form of naturalization. 

At the first battle of Blenheim, Bavaria, in 1703, the 
Irish, under Marshal Tallard, contributed to that victory. 
The regiment of Clare, encountering the Austrian guards, 
was, for a moment, overpowered, but, immediately rallying, 
it counter-charged with such fury that it not alone recovered 
its own flag, but gained two colors from the enemy ! 

The second Blenheim, so disastrous to France, was fought 
in 1704. Marlborough commanded the English right, fac- 
ing Marshal Tallard, and Eugene commanded the allied left, 
facing Marshal de Marcin, with whom was the Irish Brigade. 
Tallard was dreadfully beaten, and Marcin fared little bet- 
ter. The French suffered great slaughter, and were badly 
worsted. The Brigade, however, would not lose heart. 
Closing up its ranks, it made a superb charge on Prince 
Eugene's lines, broke through them being one of the few 
corps in the French army that saved their colors that day 
and covered the retreat of France to the Rhine ! 

The English professor, E. S. Creasy of Cambridge Uni-. 
versity, writing of the conduct of the Irish in this great baN 
tie, says, on page 318 of his "Fifteen Decisive Battles of the 
World" : "The [French] centre was composed of fourteen 
battalions of infantry, including the celebrated Irish Bri- 
gade. These were posted in the little hamlet of Oberglau, 
which lies somewhat nearer to Lutzingen than to Blenheim." 
And, on page 320 of the same work, the professor continues: 
"The Prince of Holstein Beck had, with eleven Hanoverian 
battalions, passed the Nebel opposite to Oberglau when he 
was charged and utterly routed by the Irish Brigade, which 
held that village. The Irish drove the Hanoverians back 
with heavy slaughter, broke completely through the line of 

The People's History of Ireland 393 

the allies, and nearly achieved a success as brilliant as that 
which the same Brigade afterward gained at Fontenoy. But 
at Blenheim their ardor in pursuit led them too far. Marl- 
borough came up in person and dashed in on the exposed 
flank of the Brigade with some squadrons of British cavalry. 
The Irish reeled back, and, as they strove to regain the 
heights of Oberglau, their column was raked through and 
through by the fire of three battalions of the allies, which 
Marlborough had summoned up from the reserve." Com- 
petent military critics have observed that had the French 
cavalry seconded the charge of the Irish infantry, Blenheim 
would have been a French victory. 


The Irish Brigade in the Campaigns of North Italy and Flanders 

Its Strength at Various Periods Count Dillon's Reply to 

King Louis XV 

IN the summer of 1705, the Irish again, at the battle of 
Cassano, where they fought under Marshal Vendome, 
paid their respects to Prince Eugene. They fought with a 
bravery that electrified the French and paralyzed the Aus- 
trians. Vendome's flank was badly annoyed by a hostile bat- 
tery on the farther bank of the river Adda. The stream was 
broad and deep, but two Irish regiments, under cover of 
the smoke, swam across it, and, under the very nose of the 
great Eugene, captured the Austrian cannon and turned 
their fire upon the enemy! This intrepid action decided 
the day, and France was once more triumphant, by her 
Irish arm. 

Conspicuous in this brilliant action, as also at Cremona, 
was the famous "Regiment of Burke" the last to yield 

394 The People's History of Ireland 

at Aughrim. Of it the Scotch-Canadian poet and novelist, 
William McLennan, has written: 

"Would you read your name on honor's roll? 

Look not for royal grant 
It is written in Cassano, 

Alcoy and Alicant ! 
Saragossa, Barcelona, 

Wherever dangers lurk, 
You will find in the van the blue and the buff 

Of the Regiment of Burke! 
All Spain and France and Italy 

Have echoed to our name 
The burning suns of Africa 

Have set our arms aflame! 

But to-night we toast the morn that broke and 
wakened us to fame 

The day we beat Prince Eugene in Cremona!" 

Marshal Villeroy, in May, 1706, allowed himself to be 
cooped up by the Duke of Marlborough in the village of 
Ramillies, in Flanders. The French were utterly over- 
whelmed, and many thousands of prisoners were taken. 
Lord Clare formed the Brigade into a column of attack and 
broke through the victorious enemy. The regiment of 
Clare, in this charge, met the English regiment of Churchill 
now the Third Burr's full tilt, crushed it hopelessly, cap- 
tured its battle-flags, and served a Scotch regiment, in the 
Dutch service, which endeavored to support the British, in 
the same manner. The Brigade then effected its retreat on 
Ypres, where/ in the convent of the Benedictine nuns, it 
hung up the captured colors "sole trophies of Ramil- 
lies' fray" where they have waved, for many a generation, 
a fitting memento of the faith and fame of the Irish exiles. 

In April, 1707, the Brigade next distinguished itself, at the 
battle of Almanza, in Spain, where it fought in the army of 

The People's History of Ireland 395 

Marshal the Duke of Berwick. The English and Austrians 
were commanded by Ruvigny the Williamite Earl of Gal- 
way who signalized himself at Aughrim. The Brigade 
paid him back that day. It charged with a fury never ex- 
celled in any fight. The allies were ovethrown, Ruvigny 
disgraced, and the crown of Spain was placed on the brow 
of Philip V. 

In defeat, as in victory, the bayonets of the Brigade 
still opened up the road to honor. When the French re- 
treated from Oudenarde, in July, 1708, Marlborough felt the 
Irish steel, as the gallant fellows hung doggedly behind the 
retiring French, kept the fierce pursuers at bay, and enabled 
Vendome to reorganize his beaten army. The battle of 
Malplaquet, fought September, 1709, was the bloodiest of 
this most sanguinary war. The French fought with unusual 
desperation, and the English ranks, led by Marlborough and 
seconded by Eugene, were decimated. It was an unmiti- 
gated slaughter. At length Marshal Villairs, who com- 
manded the French, was wounded and Marshal Bourflers 
ordered a retreat. Again the Irish Birgade, which fought 
with its usual courage all through that dreadful day, had 
the honor of forming the French rearguard, and, although 
many flags, capturecTTtrom France, were laid at the feet of 
the victor, no Irish color graced the trophies of Marlbor- 
ough, who, with the ill-judged battle of Malplaquet, virtu- 
ally ended his grand career as a soldier. After that fight 
the war was feebly waged France being completely ex- 
hausted until the Peace of Utrecht and Treaty of Rastadt, 
1713-14, closed the bloody record. 

It would be almost impossible to enumerate the sieges 
and minor actions in which the Irish Brigade of France par- 
ticipated within the limits of this history. The facts we 

396 The People's History of Ireland 

have given, and are to give, rest on the authority of the 
French war records, and the testimony of English and other 
writers, carefully compiled by Matthew O'Conor, in his 
"Military History of the Irish People," and by John C. 
O'Callaghan in his invaluable "History of the Irish Brig- 
ades" works which should ensure for their able and care- 
ful authors a literary immortality, and which people of the 
Irish race should treasure among their most precious heir- 
looms. It would be equally difficult to follow the career of 
those Irish soldiers who, at the peace, transferred their 
swords from France to Spain, because Louis XV, who suc- 
ceeded his grandfather while yet a child, could not employ 
them all. In Spain, as in France, their swords were sharp- 
est where the English were their foes, always, it must be 
admitted, worthy of their steel. 

The subjoined statement of the strength of the Irish forces 
in the French service during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries is taken from the authorities already quoted : 

From 1690 to 1692, three regiments of foot ; 1692 to 1698, 
thirteen regiments of infantry, three independent companies, 
two companies of cavalry, and two troops of horse guards ; 
1698 to 1714, eight regiments of infantry and one regiment 
of horse; 1714 to 1744, five regiments of infantry and one 
of cavalry; 1744 to 1762, six regiments of infantry and 
one of horse; 1762 to 1775, five regiments of infantry; 1775 
to 1791 the period of the dissolution of the Brigade 
three regiments of foot. 

From the fall of Limerick, in 1691, to the French Revo- 
lution, according to the most reliable estimate, there fell in 
the field for France, or otherwise died in her service, 
480,000 Irish soldiers. The Brigade was kept recruited by 
military emigrants, borne from Ireland chiefly from the 

The People's History of Ireland 397 

province of Munster by French smugglers, under the ro- 
mantic and significant title of "Wild Geese" in poetical al- 
lusion to their eastward flight. By this name the Brigade 
is best remembered among the Irish peasantry. 

After the death of Louis XIV, the Irish Brigade had com- 
paratively little wholesale fighting to keep them occupied, 
until the War of the Austrian Succession, thirty years later. 
They made many expeditions to the smaller states on the 
Rhenish frontier, with which France was in a chronic state 
of war, under the Duke of Berwick. In every combat they 
served with honor, and always appeared to best advantage 
where the hail of death fell thickest. At times, like most 
of their countrymen, they were inclined to wildness, but the 
^rst drum-roll or bugle blast found them ready for the fray. 
On the march to attack Fort Kehl, in 1733, Marshal Ber- 
wick who was killed two years afterward at the siege 
of Philipsburg found fault with Dillon's regiment for some 
breach of discipline while en route. He sent the colonel 
with despatches to Louis XV, and, among other matters, 
in a paternal way for Berwick loved his Irishmen called 
the king's attention to the indiscreet battalion. The mon- 
arch, on reading the document, turned to the Irish officer, 
and, in the hearing of the whole court, petulantly ex- 
claimed: "My Irish troops cause me more uneasiness than 
alT the rest of my armies!" "Sire," immediately rejoined 
the noble Count Dillon subsequently killed at Fontenoy 
"all your Majesty's enemies make precisely the same com- 
plaint." Louis, pleased with the repartee, smiled, and, 
like a true Frenchman, wiped out his previous unkindness 
by complimenting the courage of the Brigade. 

The great War of the Austrian Succession inaugurated 
the fateful campaigns of 1743 and 1745, respectively signal- 

39 8 The People's History of Ireland 

ized by the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy. The former 
was a day of dark disaster to France, and Fontenoy was a 
mortal blow to British arrogance. 

At Dettingen the Earl of Stair commanded the English 
and Hanoverians, although George II and his son, Cumber- 
land, were present on the field. Marshal de Noailles com- 
manded the French, and was badly worsted, after a desper- 
ate engagement. The Irish Brigade, summoned from a long 
distance, arrived too late to restore the battle, and met the 
French army in full retreat, hotly pursued by the allies. 
The Brigade, under the orders of Lord Clare, opened their 
ranks and allowed the French to retire, and then, closing 
steadily up, they uttered their charging cry, and, with lev- 
eled bayonet, checked the fierce pursuers. Thus, once again, 
the Irish Brigade formed the French rearguard, as the 
Fleur-de-Lis retired from the plains of Germany. 

The People's History of Ireland 399 


The Austrian Succession Campaign of 1745 Magnificent Achieve- 
ment of the Irish Brigade at Fontenoy Prince Louis's Adieu 
to the Heroes 

r I s HE famous battle of Fontenoy was fought on the soil 
1 of Belgium, in the ancient province of Hainault, within 
some thirty miles of the memorable plains of Waterloo, on 
May n, new style, 1745. France, as we have already 
noted, championed the cause of Charles of Bavaria, who 
laid claim to the Austrian throne, while England, Holland, 
Hanover, and Austria took the side of Maria Theresa, who 
eventually, owing to the unexpected death of Charles, won 
the fiercely disputed crown. 

The French were besieging Tournay with 18,000 men. 
A corps of 6,000 guarded the bridges over the Scheldt, on 
the northern bank of which Marshal Saxe, accompanied by 
Louis XV and the Dauphin, having with him 45,000 men, 
including the Irish Brigade, took post, to cover the siege of 
Tournay, and prevent the march of the allies, English, 
Dutch, and Germans, under the Duke of Cumberland and 
Prince Waldeck, to its relief. The duke was a brave sol- 
dier, but fierce and cruel as a tiger. History knows him by 
the well-won title of "the butcher Cumberland." His busi- 
ness was to raise the siege of Tournay and open a road to 
Paris. He had under his command 55,000 veteran troops, 
including the English Household regiments. 

The French lines extended from the village of Rhame- 
croix, behind De Barri's Wood, on the left, to the village 
of Fontenoy, in the centre, and from the latter position to 

Ireland 18 ' Vol. I. 

4OO The People's History of IreJand 

the intrenchments of Antoine, on the right. This line of 
defence was admirably guarded by "fort and flanking bat- 
tery." The Irish Brigade composed that day of the in- 
fantry regiments of Clare, Dillon, Bulkeley, Roth, Ber- 
wick, and Lally Fitz-James's horse being with the French 
cavalry in advance was stationed, in reserve, near the 
wood, supported by the brigades of Normandie and De Vas- 

Prince Waldeck commanded the allied left, in front of 
Antoine. Brigadier Ingoldsby commanded the British 
right, facing the French redoubt at De Barri's Wood, while 
Cumberland, chief in command, was with the allied centre, 
confronting Fontenoy. 

The battle opened with a furious cannonade, at 5 o'clock 
in the morning. After some hours spent in this manner, 
Ingoldsby attempted to carry the redoubt, but was igno- 
miniously repulsed, and could not be induced to renew the 
attempt. This refusal subsequently led to his dismissal 
from the army on a charge of cowardice. Prince Waldeck 
fared no better at Antoine, being defeated in two attempts 
to force the lines. The Duke of Cumberland, grown impa- 
tient because of repeated failures, loaded the unfortunate 
commanding officers with imprecations. He took the re- 
solve of beating the French at any cost by a concentrated 
attack on their left centre, through a gap of about 700 
yards, which occurred between the Fontenoy redoubts and 
the work vainly attacked by Ingoldsby in the edge of the 
wood of Barri. For this purpose, he formed his reserves 
and least battered active battalions, including the English 
guards, several British line regiments, and a large body of 
picked Hanoverian troops, into three columns, aggregating 
16,000 men, preceded and flanked by twenty pieces of can- 

The People's History of Ireland 401 

non, all drawn by hand, to avoid the confusion incident on 
the killing and wounding of the battery horses. But subse- 
quent developments compelled the Duke to change the orig- 
inal formation to one massive, solid oblong wedge, the Brit- 
ish on the right and the Hanoverians on the left. Lord 
Charles Hay, the boldest soldier in the allied army, drew his 
sword and led the attacking column. Meanwhile, Cumber- 
land renewed the attack all along the line, in order to cover 
the advance of his human battering-ram. Thus, the French 
were pressed hard at every point, but their batteries and bat- 
talions replied with spirit, and Antoine held out heroically 
in spite of all the efforts of Waldeck and his Dutch and 
Austrian troops against it. These latter were badly cut up 
by the fire of a French battery planted beyond the Scheldt. 
Up to this period, about the noon hour, everything had gone 
favorably for the French. 

But the decisive moment had now arrived, and the great 
Anglo-Hanoverian column received the command "For- 
ward, march!" "In front of them, as it chanced," says 
Mitchel, "were four battalions of the French guards, 
with two battalions of Swiss on their left and two other 
French regiments on their right. The French officers 
seem to have been greatly surprised when they saw the 
English battery taking up position on the summit of the 
rising ground. 'English cannon!' they cried. 'Let us 
go and take them!' They mounted the slope with their 
grenadiers, but were astonished to find an army on their 
front. A heavy discharge, both of artillery and musketry, 
made them quickly recoil with heavy loss." On, then, 
swept the English column, with free and gallant stride, be- 
tween Fontenoy and De Barri's wood, whose batteries 
plowed them from flank to flank at every step. But in the 

402 The People's History of Ireland 

teeth of the artillery, the musketry and the bomb-shells 
which rose, circled and fell among them, killing and wound- 
ing scores at each explosion; charged by the cavalry of the 
royal household, and exposed to the iron hail of the French 
sharpshooters, that blue-and-scarlet wave of battle rolled 
proudly against the serried ranks of France. Falling by 
the hundred, they finally got beyond the cross-fire from the 
redoubts, crossed the slope and penetrated behind the vil- 
lage of Fontenoy marching straight on the headquarters 
of the king ! The column was quickly in the middle of the 
picked soldiers of France, tossing them haughtily aside 
with the ready bayonet, while the cheers of anticipated vic- 
tory resounded from their ranks far over the bloody field. 
Marshal Saxe, ill, and pale with rage and vexation, sprang, 
unarmored, upon his horse, and seemed to think the battle 
lost, for he ordered the evacuation of Antoine, in order that 
the bridges across the Scheldt might be covered and the 
king's escape assured. At this moment, Count Lally, of 
the Irish Brigade, rode up to Duke Richelieu, Saxe's chief 
aide, and said to him: "We have still four field-pieces in 
reserve they should batter the head of that column. The 
Irish Brigade has not yet been engaged. Order it to fall 
on the English flank. Let the whole army second it let 
us fall on the English like foragers !" Richelieu, who, after- 
ward, allowed the suggestion to appear as if coming from 
himself, went at once to Saxe and gave him the substance 
of Lally's proposal. The king and Dauphin, who were pres- 
ent, approved of it. The order to evacuate Antoine was 
countermanded, and aides immediately galloped to the rear 
of the wood of Barri to order up the Irish Brigade, com- 
manded by Lord Clare, and its supporting regiments. These 
brave men, rendered excited and impatient by the noise of 

The People's History of Ireland 403 

the battle, in which they had not yet been allowed to par- 
ticipate, received the command with loud demonstrations of 
joy. Their officers immediately led them toward the point 
of danger. 

Meanwhile, the English column, marching and firing 
steadily that "infernal, rolling fire," so characteristic of 
the British mode of fighting kept on its terrible course, and 
crushed every French organization that stood in its path. 
Had the Dutch and Austrians succeeded in carrying Antoine 
at this moment, Cumberland must have been victorious and 
the French army could not have escaped. Already the col- 
umn, still bleeding at every stride, was within sight of the 
royal tent. The English officers actually laid their canes 
along the barrels of the muskets to make the men fire low. 
Suddenly, the fire from the four reserve French cannon 
opened on the head of the column, and the foremost files 
went down. The English guns replied stoutly and the 
march was renewed. But now there came an ominous 
sound from the side of De Barri's wood that made Lord 
Hay, brave and bold as he was, start, pause, and listen. It 
swelled above the crash of artillery and the continuous rattle 
of musketry. "Nearer, clearer, deadlier than before," that 
fierce hurrah bursts upon the ear of battle! The English 
have heard that shout before and remember it to their cost. 
The crisis of the conflict has come, and the command, by 
voice and bugle, "Halt ! halt !" rang from front to rear of the 
bleeding column. The ranks were dressed hastily, and the 
English prepared to meet the advancing enemy with a 
deadly volley from their front and long right flank. They 
looked anxiously in the direction of the wood and beheld 
long lines and bristling columns of men in blue and red 
the uniform of the Irish Brigade coming on at the charg- 

404 The People's History of Ireland 

ing step, with colors flying and "the generals and colonels 
on horseback among the glittering bayonets." They did 
not fire a single shot as they came on. Behind them were 
masses of men in blue and white. These were the French 
supports. Again the British officers laid their canes 
across the barrels of the muskets, and, as the Bri- 
gade came within close range, a murderous volley 
rolled out. Hundreds of the Irish fell, but the survivors, 
leaping over the dead, dying, and wounded, never paused for 
a moment. They closed the wide gaps in their ranks and 
advanced at a run until they came within bayonet thrust or 
butt-stroke of the front and right of the English column, 
which they immediately crushed out of military shape ; while 
their fierce war-shout, uttered in the Irish tongue "Re- 
venge! Remember Limerick and English treachery!" 
sounded the death-knell of Cumberland's heroic soldiers. 
While the clubbed muskets of the Brigade beat down the En- 
glish ranks, that furious war-cry rang even unto the walls 
of old Tournay. The French regiments of Normandie and 
Vassieux bravely seconded the Irish charge, and they and 
other Gallic troops disposed of the Hanoverians. Within 
ten minutes from the time when the Brigade came in con- 
tact with the English column, no British soldiers, except the 
dead, wounded, and captured, remained on the slope of Fon- 
tenoy. Bulkeley's Irish regiment nearly annihilated the 
Coldstream Guards and captured their colors. 

This victory saved France from invasion, but it cost the 
Irish dear. Count Dillon was slain, Lord Clare disabled, 
while one-third of the officers and one-fourth of the men 
were killed or wounded. King Louis, next morning, pub- 
licly thanked the Irish, made Lally a general, and Lord Clare 
was, soon afterward, created a marshal of France. Eng- 

The People's History of Ireland 405 

land met retribution for her cruelty and faithlessness to Ire- 
land, and King George vehemently cursed the laws which 
drove the Irish exiles to win glory and vengeance on that 
bloody day. 

The losses in the battle were nearly equal the French, 
Swiss, and Irish losing altogether 7,139 men killed, 
wounded, and missing; while the English, Hanoverians, 
Dutch, and Austrians acknowledged a total loss of 7,7^7 
men, said by O'Callaghan to be an underestimate. Fon- 
tenoy was one of the greatest of French victories, and led, 
in the same campaign, to numerous other successes. Among 
the latter may be enumerated the triumph at Melle, the sur- 
prise of Ghent, the occupation of Bruges, and the capture 
of Oudenarde, Dendermonde, Ostend, Nieuport, and Ath. 

Several officers of the Irish Brigade went with Prince 
Charles Edward Stuart to Scotland, when he made his gal- 
lant but ill-fated attempt to restore the fallen fortunes of 
his luckless father, called by the Jacobites James VIII of 
Scotland and James III of England and Ireland, in 1745-46. 
The Hanoverian interest called James the "Old" and 
Charles Edward the "Young" Pretender. The Irish officers 
formed "Prince Charles's" chosen bodyguard when he was 
a fugitive amid the Highlands and Western Isles after Cullo- 
den. One of the last great field exploits of the Irish Bri- 
gade was its victorious charge at Laffeldt, in Flanders, in 
1747, when, for the second time, it humiliated Cumberland, 
and, in a measure, avenged his base massacre of the gallant 
Scottish Highland clans, in 1746. The victory of Laffeldt 
led to the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, which was favorable 
to France, in 1748. The Brigade took part in each succeed- 
ing war in which France was involved down to the period 
of the Revolution. Some of its regiments served also in 

406 The People's History of Ireland 

India and America. Under Count Dillon, several Irish bat- 
talions distinguished themselves in the dashing, but un- 
successful, attack on the British at Savannah, Ga., in 1779, 
when the brave Count Pulaski, who led the assault, was 
killed on the ramparts. By that time, however, the volume 
of recruits from Ireland had greatly diminished, owing to 
the gradual relaxation of the penal code, and a majority 
of the officers and soldiers of the Brigade were, although of 
Irish blood, French by birth. Some of the officers were 
French by both birth and blood, and, among them, in 1791, 
was the great-grandson of St. Ruth. The Brigade, as be- 
came it, remained faithful to the last to the Bourbon 
dynasty. Unfortunately this fidelity led the feeble remnant, 
under Colonel O'Connell, to take service in the West In- 
dies, beneath the British flag, after the Revolution. In 
extenuation of their fault, it must be remembered that they 
were, to a man, monarchists; that the Stuart cause was 
hopelessly lost, and that both tradition and education made 
them the inevitable enemies of the new order of things in 
France. Still, an Irish historian may be pardoned for re- 
marking that it were much better for the fame of the 
Brigade of Cremona and Fontenoy if its senile heir-at-law 
had refrained from accepting the pay of the country whose 
tyranny had driven the original organization into hopeless 

But the active career of the bold Brigade terminated in 
a blaze of glory. The hand of a prince, destined to be a 
monarch, inscribed its proud epitaph when, in 1792, the 
Comte de Provence, afterward Louis XVIII, presented 
to the surviving officers a drapeau d'adieu, or flag of fare- 
well a gold harp wreathed with shamrocks and fleur-de- 
lis, on a white ground, with the following touching words : 

The People's History of Ireland 407 

"Gentlemen : We acknowledge the inappreciable services 
that France has received from the Irish Brigade in the 
course of the last hundred years services that we shall 
never forget, though under an impossibility of requiting 
them. Receive this standard as a pledge of our remem- 
brance, a monument of our admiration and our respect, 
and, in future, generous Irishmen, this shall be the motto 
of your stainless flag 

" '1692-1792.' 
"Semper et Ubique Fidelis! 

("Ever, and everywhere, faithful.") 

Never did military body receive a nobler discharge from 

And yet, well might the haughty Bourbon prince so 
express himself. In defence of his house^ there died be- 
neath the golden lilies, in camp and breach and field, nearly 
500,000 of Ireland's daring manhood. It is no wonder that 
with those heroes departed much of her warlike spirit and 
springing courage. Her "wild geese," as she fondly Called 
them, will never fly again to her bosom across the waves 
that aided their flight to exile and to glory. The cannon 
of all Europe pealed above their gory graves, on many a 
stricken field, the soldier's requiem. 

"They fought as they reveled, fast, fiery, and true, 
And, tho' victors, they left on the field not a few; 
And they who survived fought and drank as of yore, 
But the land of their hearts' hope they saw nevermore : 
For, in far foreign fields, from Dunkirk to Belgrade, 
Lie the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade !" 

Its successor in the French army was the Irish Legion, 
composed in the main of refugees who had participated in 
the "rebellion" of 1798 and the "rising" of 1803. This 

408 The People's History of Ireland 

fine body of soldiers was organized by Napoleon himself, 
wore a distinctively Irish uniform of green and gold, and 
carried French and Irish colors. To it, also, was intrusted 
an eagle the only foreign force that was so honored by 
the greatest of generals. The Legion fought for the Em- 
peror, with splendid fidelity, from 1805 to 1815, partici- 
pating in most of the great battles of that warlike period. 
It was naturally expected that Louis XVIII, on his final 
restoration to the throne, would revive the old Irish Bri- 
gade, so highly praised by him, when Comte de Provence, 
in 1792, but he was under too many obligations to Eng- 
land, and, in fact, his treaty with that power, after the 
second exile of Napoleon, made it obligatory on him not to 
accept an Irish military contingent under any consideration. 
His acquiescence in this ignoble compact makes more em- 
phatic the venerable adage, "Put not your trust in Princes." 




Anti-Catholic Penal Laws Their Drastic, Brutal and Absurd Pro- 
visions Professional Informers, Called "Priest-Hunters" 

WE now approach a period of Irish history from which 
we would gladly escape, if we could; a period de- 
grading to Ireland, disgraceful to England, and shocking 
to humanity. We are about to deal with the dark and 
bloody period of the revived penal code, in Ireland, follow- 
ing fast upon the capitulation of Limerick. Many writers 
have extolled the fair-mindedness and liberality of William 
III, but his course toward Ireland does not sustain the jus- 
tice of their eulogies. That he was an indifferentist in 
matters of religion is not doubted, yet he permitted persecu- 
tion for conscience' sake in his Irish dominion. That he 
was an able man has not been disputed, yet he permitted 
English jealousy to destroy the trade and industries of his 
own supporters in Ireland, thereby driving thousands on 
thousands of the Irish dissenters to the American colonies, 
which their descendants, in 1775-83, did so much to make 
"free and independent." We can find nothing to admire 
in the Irish policy of William III. Had he been an honest 
bigot, a fanatic on the subject of religion, we could under- 
stand his toleration of the legislative abominations which 
made the Irish Catholic a helot on his native soil. Had 
he been an imbecile we could understand how English plau- 
sibility might have imposed upon him in the matter of Irish 
Protestant commerce. However, not much of moral stam- 
ina could be expected from a man who estranged his wife 

(41 1) 

412 The People's History of Ireland 

and his sister-in-law, Anne, from their own father ; or from 
a nephew, and son-in-law, that did not scruple to play the 
cuckoo and eject his own uncle and father-in-law from the 
royal nest of England. Add to this his heartless policy to- 
ward the Macdonalds of Glencoe, in Scotland, the order for 
whose massacre he countersigned himself, and we find our- 
selves utterly unable to give William of Orange credit for 
sincerity, liberality, or common humanity. He was per- 
sonally courageous, a fair general, and a cautious states- 
man. These about summed up his good qualities. But he 
interposed no objection when, notwithstanding the solemn 
civil articles of Limerick, he permitted the estates of the 
adherents of King James, to whom his Lords Justices, by 
royal sanction, guaranteed immunity, to be confiscated. 

Mitchel, a Protestant in belief, says in his "History of 
Ireland," page 3 : "The first distinct breach of the Articles 
of Limerick was perpetrated by King William and his 
Parliament in England, just two months after those articles 
were signed. King William was in the Netherlands when 
he heard of the surrender of Limerick, and, at once, hastened 
to London. Three days later he summoned a Parliament. 
Very early in the session, the English House of Commons, 
exercising its customary power of binding Ireland by acts 
passed in London, sent up to the House of Lords a bill 
providing that no person should sit in the Irish Parliament, 
nor should hold any Irish office, civil, military, or ecclesias- 
tical, nor should practice law or medicine in Ireland, till he 
had first taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and 
subscribed to the declaration against transubstantiation. The 
law was passed, only reserving the right [of practice] to 
such lawyers and physicians as had been within the walls 
of Galway and Limerick when those towns capitulated." 

The People's History of Ireland 413 

Thenceforward there were repeated violations of the treaty, 
during the reign of William and Mary, although the penal 
laws did not reach the acme of their crushing severity until 
the reigns of their immediate successors, Queen Anne, 
George I, and George II. Lord Macaulay himself, who 
does not admit that William III was ever wrong, acknowl- 
edges, in his "History of England," that "the Irish Roman 
Catholics complained, and with but too much reason, that, 
at a later period, the Treaty of Limerick was violated." 
The main opposition to the confirmation of the treaty came, 
as might be expected, from the party of Protestant ascend- 
ency in Ireland, which had in view "the glory of God," and 
wholesale confiscation of Catholic property. Their horror 
of what they called "Popery" was strongly influenced by 
a pious greed for cheap real estate. There were, of course, 
many noble exceptions to this mercenary rule among the 
Protestants of Ireland, even in the blackest period of "the 
penal days." If there had not been, the Catholics must 
have been exterminated. It is only fair to say that the 
majority of the poorer Protestant Irish particularly the 
Dissenters had little or no part in framing the penal 
code, and that many members of the Irish House of Lords, 
including Protestant bishops, indignantly protested against 
the formal violation of the Articles of Limerick, contained 
in the act of the "Irish" Parliament, passed in 1695. 

Lord Sydney, William's Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, sum- 
moned the first Irish Parliament of his master's reign, in 
1692, and this was the only Parliament, except that called 
together by King James in 1689, which had met in Ireland 
in six-and-twenty years. No act of Catholic disqualifica- 
tion for Parliament existed in Ireland at that time, and, 
therefore, a few Catholic lords and commoners presented 

414 The People's History of Ireland 

themselves, on summons, and took their seats. They had 
forgotten that the "paternal" English Parliament had, in 
1691, provided for such an emergency, and were taken 
aback when the clerks of Parliament presented to them "the 
oath of supremacy, declaring the King of England to be 
head of the Church, and affirming the sacrifice of the Mass 
to be damnable." Mitchel says, further, of what followed : 
"The oath was put to each member of both Houses, and the 
few Catholics present at once retired, so that the Parlia- 
ment, when it proceeded to business, was purely Protestant. 
Here, then, ended the last vestige of constitutional right for 
the Catholics; from this date, and for generations to come, 
they could no longer consider themselves a part of the ex- 
isting body politic of their native land, and the division [of 
the Irish] into two nations became definite. There was 
the dominant nation, consisting of the British colony, and 
the subject nation, consisting of five-sixths of the popula- 
tion, who had, therefore, no more influence upon public 
affairs than have the red Indians of the United States." 
In order to more fully reduce the Catholics of Ireland to the 
condition described, an act was passed by the Irish Parlia- 
ment in 1697 which provided that "a Protestant marrying 
a Catholic was disabled from sitting or voting in either 
House of Parliament." We may add that, following up this 
policy, the same Parliament, thirty years later, fearing that 
the Catholics were not even yet sufficiently effaced from po- 
litical life, passed another bill by which it was enacted that 
"no Catholic shall be entitled, or admitted, to vote at the 
election of any member to serve in Parliament, as a knight, 
citizen, or burgess ; or at the election of any magistrate for 
any city or other town corporate ; any law, statute, or usage 
to the contrary notwithstanding." 

The People's History of Ireland 415 

Mitchel, commenting on the severity of the penal laws, 
presents a curiously contradictory situation in the Ireland 
of King William's time when he says: "But though the 
inhabitants of Ireland were now, counting from 1692, de- 
finitively divided into two castes, there arose immediately, 
strange to say, a strong sentiment of Irish nationality not, 
indeed, among the depressed Catholics; they were done 
with national sentiment and aspiration for a time but the 
Protestants of Ireland had lately grown numerous, wealthy, 
and strong. Their numbers had been largely increased 
by English settlers coming to enjoy the plunder of the for- 
feited estates, and very much by conversions, or pretended 
conversions, of Catholics, who had recanted their faith to 
save their property or their position in society, and who gen- 
erally altered or disguised their family names when these 
had too Celtic a sound. The Irish Protestants also prided 
themselves on having saved the kingdom for William and 
the 'Ascendancy/ and having now totally put down the an- 
cient nation under their feet, they aspired to take its place, 
to rise from a colony to a nation, and to assert the dignity 
of an independent kingdom." 

Even the Irish Protestant Parliament of 1692 quarreled 
with Lord Lieutenant Sydney over a revenue bill, which 
originated in London, and which it rejected, although it 
passed another bill, having a like origin, on the ground of 
emergency. During the debate on these measures, several 
members denied the right of England to tax Ireland with- 
out her consent, and insisted that all revenue bills, which 
called for Irish taxation, should originate in Ireland, not in 
England. This bold spirit angered Lord Sydney, who im- 
mediately prorogued that Parliament, not, however, before 
he made an overbearing speech, in which he rebuked the ac- 

4i 6 The Peoples History of Ireland 

tion of the members and haughtily asserted the supremacy 
of the British Parliament over that of Ireland. His re- 
marks left a sting in Protestant Ireland and served to 
strengthen, rather than weaken, the national sentiment al- 
luded to by Mitchel. 

In 1693, King James the Vacillating, then a pensioner of 
the King of France, at St. Germain, issued a declaration to 
his former subjects of England in which he made humiliat- 
ing promises, at variance with his previous record, and in 
which, among other things, he promised if restored to the 
throne to keep inviolate the Act of Settlement, which de- 
prived his Catholic supporters in Ireland of their estates! 
This perfidious document aroused great indignation among 
the Irish military exiles, and James, through his English 
advisers in France, attempted to smooth matters over by 
promising that, in the event of his success, he would recom- 
pense all who might suffer by his act, by giving them equiva- 
lents. Lord Middleton, a Scotch peer, is held chiefly re- 
sponsible for having led King James into this disgraceful 
transaction the most blameful of his unfortunate career. 
"There was no such promise [of recompense] in the declara- 
tion" (to the English), says the historian recently quoted, 
"but, in truth, the Irish troops in the army of King Louis 
were, at that time, too busy in camp and field, and too 
keenly desirous to meet the English in battle, to pay much 
attention to anything coming from King James. They had 
had enough of 'Righ Seamus' at the Boyne Water." 

Lord Sydney, although inimical to the claim of Irish 
Parliamentary independence, was rather friendly to the per- 
secuted Irish Catholics, and was, therefore, at the request of 
the "Ascendancy" faction, speedily recalled, not, however, 
before, after two proroguements, he had dissolved the Par- 

The People's History of Ireland 417 

liament convened in 1692. Three Lords Justices Lord 
Capel, Sir Cyril Wyche, and Mr. Buncombe were given the 
government of Ireland in his stead, but, owing to serious dis- 
sensions among themselves, Capel was finally appointed Lord 
Lieutenant, and, in 1695, summoned a new Parliament to 
meet in Dublin. This assembly was destined to be infamous. 
Its first act was to bring up the articles of the Treaty of Lim- 
erick for "confirmation," and it "confirmed" them by veto- 
ing all the important and agreeing to all the trivial pro- 
visions. The enumeration of all the penal laws passed by 
this 'Parliament would be tedious in the extreme, and a 
bare outline will suffice to show their 'demoralizing tendency : 
It was enacted that Catholic schoolmasters were forbidden 
to teach, either publicly or privately, under severe penalty; 
and the parents of Catholic children were prohibited from 
sending them to be educated abroad. All Catholics were re- 
quired to surrender their arms, and, in order to enforce the 
act more thoroughly, "right of search" was given to magis- 
trates, so that Catholic householders could be disturbed at 
any hour of the day or night, their bedrooms invaded, and 
the women of their family subjected to exposure and insult. 

Notwithstanding the clause in the Treaty of Limerick 
which was supposed to secure the Catholic landholders in 
certain counties in the possession of their property, Parlia- 
ment made a clean sweep by confiscating the property of all, 
to the extent of over a million acres, so that now, at long 
run, after three series of confiscations, there remained in 
Catholic hands less than one-seventh of the entire surface 
of the island. The Protestant one-sixth owned all the 

It was agreed not to seriously disturb the parish priests, 
who were incumbents at the time of the treaty, but no 

4i 8 The People's History of Ireland 

curates were allowed them, and they were compelled tc 
register their names, like ticket-of-leave men, in a book fur- 
nished by government. They had, also, to give security for 
their "good conduct," and there were other insulting exac- 
tions the emanation of bitter hearts and narrow brains. 
All Catholic prelates, the Jesuits, monks, and "regular 
clergy," of whatever order, were peremptorily ordered to 
quit Ireland by May i, 1698. If any returned after that 
date, they were to be arrested for high treason, "tried," and, 
of course, condemned and executed. The object was to 
leave the Catholic people without spiritual guides, except 
Protestants, after the "tolerated" parish priests had passed 
away; but, in spite of the penal enactment, a large number 
of devoted proscribed bishops and priests remained in Ire- 
land, and the prelates administered holy orders to ycung 
clerical students, who, like themselves, had defied penalties 
and risked their lives for the service of God and the con- 
solation of their suffering people. 

In order to still further humiliate the unfortunate Irish 
Catholics, this Parliament of bigots decreed that no Catho- 
lic chapel should be furnished with either bell or belfry. 
Such smallness would seem incredible in our age, but the 
enactments stand out, in all their hideousness, in the old 
statutes of the Irish Parliament, still preserved in the gov- 
ernment archives in Dublin and London. It was this Par- 
liament that decreed, further, that no Catholic could possess 
a horse of or over the value of 5 sterling. On offering 
that sum, or anything over it, any Protestant could become 
owner of the animal. 

The Irish peers who protested against this tyranny were 
Lords Londonderry, Tyrone, and Duncannon, the Barons 
Ossory, Limerick, Killaloe, Kerry, Howth, Kingston, and 

The People's History of Ireland 419 

Strabane, and the Protestant bishops of Kildare, Elphin, 
Derry, Clonfert, and Killala to whom be eternal honor. 

But the penal laws were not yet completed. They had just 
about begun. In 1704, when the Duke of Ormond, grand- 
son of the Ormond of Cromwellian days, became viceroy 
for Queen Anne, another Irish Ascendancy Parliament en- 
acted, among other things, that the eldest son of a Catholic, 
by becoming Protestant, could become the owner of his 
father's land, if he possessed any, and the father become 
only a life tenant. If any child, of any age above infancy, 
declared itself a Protestant, it was ordered placed under 
Protestant guardianship, and the father was compelled to 
pay for its education and support. If the wife of a Cath- 
olic turned Protestant, she could claim a third of his prop- 
erty and separate maintenance. Catholics were prohibited 
from being guardians of their own children, to the end that, 
when they died, the helpless ones might be brought up as 

Catholics were debarred from buying land, or taking a 
freehold lease for life, or a for a longer period than thirty- 
one years. No Catholic heir to a former owner was al- 
lowed to accept property that came to him by right of 
lineal descent, or by process of bequest. If any Protestant 
could prove that the profit on the farm of a Catholic ex- 
ceeded one-third of the rent paid by the latter, the informer 
"could take immediate possession of the land. 

We have already alluded to the measures taken to ex- 
clude Catholics from civil and military service, by opera- 
tion of the odious test oaths, which were also used to pre- 
vent them from entering Parliament, and from even voting 
for members of Parliament, although the latter had to be 
Protestants in order to be eligible. The Irish Dissenters 

42O The People's History of Ireland 

Presbyterians and others were also subjected to the test- 
oath indignity, which, together with the tyrannical restric- 
tions on trade, imposed by the English and servile Irish 
Parliament, drove many thousands of them to America. 
The Irish Presbyterians, in particular, resented the "test" 
and "schism" acts, and refused to apply to Episcopal bish- 
ops for license to teach in schools; or to receive the sacra- 
ment after the fashion of the Church of England. Rewards 
were held out for all who would reveal to the government 
the names of Catholics, or others, who might violate the 
provisions of the barbaric laws summarized in this chapter. 
The scale of the rewards, as given by McGee and other 
authors, is a curious study. Thus, "for discovering an arch- 
bishop, bishop, vicar-general, or other person exercising 
any foreign ecclesiastical jurisdiction, 50; for discovering 
each 'regular' clergyman and each 'secular' clergyman, not 
registered, 20, and for discovering each 'Popish' school- 
master, or usher, 10." If any person refused to give 
evidence of the residence of any proscribed person, he was 
fined 20, or else had to go to prison for a year. Many 
noble-hearted Protestants who, in spite of penal laws, loved 
their Catholic fellow-countrymen, suffered pains and penal- 
ties, under these enactments, and became objects of hatred 
to the more malignant section of their co-religionists, who 
were after the Catholic spoils. Thus, public distrust be- 
came epidemic, and the infamous "reward" policy begot, 
as a natural result, a host of professional informers, whose 
shocking avocation was mainly exercised in the spying out 
of the places of concealment of proscribed prelates and 
priests, and who are still remembered in Ireland as "priest- 
hunters." These malignants also directed their efforts vig- 
orously against the teachers of "hedge-schools" that is to 

The People's History of Ireland 421 

say, schools held in the open air, generally under the shelter 
of a tall hedge, or on the edge of a wood, and presided 
over by some wandering schoolmaster, who bravely risked 
liberty, and often life, in teaching the Catholic youth of 
Ireland the rudiments of education. 

There existed a mean "toleration" of Catholic worship, 
in parishes whose priests were "registered," according to 
the provisions of the penal code, but, in parishes where the 
priests were not registered, and they were numerous, priests 
and people, who wished to celebrate and assist at the con- 
soling sacrifice of the Mass, had to retire to ocean cave, 
or mountain summit, or rocky gorge, in order to guard 
against surprise and massacre. The English government 
of the day did not scruple to lend its soldiers to the priest- 
hunters, to enable the latter to more effectively accomplish 
their odious mission; just as in our day it has lent the 
military to the sheriffs to carry out those cruel evictions 
which the late Mr. Gladstone called "sentences of death." 
It was the custom to place sentinels around the places where 
Mass was being celebrated, but, despite of this precaution, 
the human sleuthhounds occasionally crept unobserved 
upon their unarmed victims for then, as now, the Irish 
were systematically disarmed and often slew priest and 
people at the rude altar stones, called still by the peasantry 
"Mass rocks." 

So great was the enforced exodus of priests from Ireland, 
at this awful period of its history, that, says McGee, "in 
Rome 72,000 francs annually were allotted for the main- 
tenance of the fugitive Irish clergy, and, during the first 
three months of 1699, three remittances from the Holy 
Father, amounting to 90,000 livres, were placed in the 
hands of the Nuncio at Paris for the temporary relief of 

422 The People's History of Ireland 

the fugitives in France and Flanders. It may also be added 
here that, till the end of the eighteenth century, an annual 
charge of 1,000 crowns was borne by the Papal treasury 
for the encouragement of Catholic poor schools in Ireland." 

Of the penal code which produced this dreadful condi- 
tion of affairs, in and out of Ireland, Dr. Samuel Johnson, 
the great English scholar and philosopher, said, "They are 
more grievous than all the Ten Pagan persecutions of the 

Edmund Burke, the illustrious Irish statesman, who 
passed most of his career in the British Parliament, and 
was, of course, a Protestant, or he could not have sat there, 
denounced them, substantially, as the most diabolical en- 
gine of oppression and demoralization ever used against a 
people or ever devised by "the perverted ingenuity of man." 

And the Protestant and English histori?n, Godkin, who 
compiled Cassell's "History of Ireland," for English read- 
ers, says of the penal laws: "The eighteenth century was 
the era of persecution in which the law did the work of the 
sword, more effectually and more safely. There was es- 
tablished a code framed with almost diabolical ingenuity, 
to extinguish natural affection, to foster perfidy and hypoc- 
risy, to petrify conscience, to perpetuate brutal ignorance, 
to facilitate the work of tyranny, by rendering the vices of 
slavery inherent and natural in the Irish character, and to 
make Protestantism almost irredeemably odious as the 
monstrous incarnation of all moral perversions." This 
honest Englishman grows indignant when he says, in con- 
tinuation, "Too well did it accomplish its deadly work on 
the intellects, morals, and physical condition of a people, 
sinking in degeneracy from age to age, till all manly spirit, 
all virtuous sense of personal independence and responsibil- 

The People's History of Ireland 423 

ity, was nearly extinct, and the very features, vacant, timid, 
curyiing, and unreflective, betrayed the crouching slave 
within .... Having no rights or franchises, no legal pro- 
tection of life and property, disqualified to handle a gun, 
even as a common soldier or a gamekeeper, forbidden to 
acquire the elements of knowledge at home or abroad, for- 
bidden even to render to God what conscience dictated as 
His due, what could the Irish be but abject serfs? What 
nation in their circumstances could have been otherwise? 
Is it not amazing that any social virtue could have survived 
such an ordeal ? that any seeds of good, any roots of na- 
tional greatness, could have outlived such a long and tem- 
pestuous winter?" 

But the seeds of good, although chilled, did not decay, 
and the manly spirit of the Old Irish race the Celto-Nor- 
man stock, with the former element in preponderance 
survived all its persecutions, and 

" Exiled in those penal days, 
Its banners over Europe blaze !" 

The great American orator and philanthropist, Wendell 
Phillips, lecturing on Ireland, and alluding to the enforced 
ignorance of a former period, said : "When the old-time 
ignorance of the Catholic Irish people is reproachfully al- 
luded to by the thoughtless, or illiberal, it is not Ireland 
but England that should bow her head in the dust and put 
on sackcloth and ashes \ n 

Ireland 19 Vol. I. 

424- The People's History of Ireland 


Restrictions on Irish Trade and Manufactures All Creeds Suffer- 
Presbyterian Exodus to America Death of Royal Personages 
Accession of George I 

SINCE the days of Charles II, and probably before his 
reign, a contemptible jealousy of the growth of Irish 
commerce had taken possession of the commercial element 
in England. We have already said something about the 
crushing of the Irish cattle trade, while yet the "Merry Mon- 
arch" was on the throne ; but a far deadlier blow was struck 
at Irish prosperity when, in 1698, the English manufactur- 
ers had the assurance to petition Parliament against the Irish 
woolen industry then among the most prosperous in Eu- 
rope. This petition was strongly indorsed by the English 
House of Lords, in an address to King William, wherein 
they, unconsciously, perhaps, paid a high tribute to Irish 
manufacturing genius. They virtually admitted that the 
superiority of Irish woolen fabrics made the English trad- 
ers apprehensive that the farther growth of the Irish woolen 
industry "might greatly prejudice the said manufacture in 
his Majesty's Kingdom of England." Not content with 
this display of mean selfishness, the English fisheries' inter- 
est protested against Irish fishermen catching herrings on 
the eastern coast of their own island, "thereby coming into 
competition with them [the English]." The Colonial Par- 
liament of Ireland basely yielded to English coercion, and, 
in 1699, actually stabbed the industries of their own country 
in the back, by placing ruinous export duties on fine Irish 
woolens, friezes, and flannels! And this hostile legislation 
was aimed, not against the Catholic Irish, who had no in- 

The People's History of Ireland 425 

dustries, but against the Protestant Irish, who possessed 
all of them! 

The English Parliament, thus secured against effective 
opposition, immediately passed an act whereby the Irish 
people were forbidden to export either the raw material 
for making woolen goods, or the goods themselves, to any 
foreign port, except a few English ports, and only six of 
the numerous Irish seaports were allowed even this poor 
privilege. The natural result followed. Irish prices went 
up in England, and, in spite of the acknowledged excellence 
of Irish manufactures, the English people would not pur- 
chase them at an advanced cost. The Irish traders could 
not afford to sell them at a moderate price, and, within a 
few years, most of the latter were absolutely ruined. Dr. 
P. W. Joyce, in his "History of Ireland," estimates that 
"40,000 Irish Protestants all prosperous working people 
were immediately reduced to idleness and poverty the 
Catholics, of course, sharing in the misery, so far as they 
were employed, and 20,000 Presbyterians and other Non- 
conformists left Ireland for New England. Then began 
the emigration, from want of employment, that continues 
to this day. But the English Parliament professed to en- 
courage the Irish linen trade, for this could do no harm to 
English traders, as flax growing and linen manufacture had 
not taken much hold in England." 

This, according to Dr. Joyce, was the beginning of 
that smuggling trade with France which Ireland carried on 
for more than a century, and a close acquaintance, there- 
fore, sprang up between the French and Irish traders and 
sailors. Ireland could sell her surplus wool to great advan- 
tage in France, and received from that country many lux- 
uries, which, otherwise, she could not have enjoyed. French 

426 The People's History of Ireland 

wines became common at Irish tables, above those of the 
working-class, and French silks decorated the fair persons of 
Irish maids and matrons. Moreover, this adventurous trade 
developed a hardy race of Irish sailors, and, by means of the 
Irish smugglers and their French copartners, the Irish 
priests found a convenient avenue of transit to and from the 
Continent; and brave young Irish spirits, registered as 
"Wild Geese," found their way to the ranks of "the bold 
Brigade," whose fame was then a household word in Eu- 
rope. But the Irish masses, both Catholic and Noncon- 
formist, were reduced to abject poverty, and each succeed- 
ing year brought fresh commercial restrictions, until, finally, 
almost every Irish industry, except the linen, was totally 
extirpated in the island. The smuggling trade, alone, kept 
some vitality in the commercial veins of the ruined coun- 
try, and, in defiance of English and Anglo-Irish enactments 
against it, it continued to flourish down to the beginning of 
the nineteenth century. 

Well-meaning foreign writers, who did not make a study 
of Anglo-Irish relations in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and 
eighteenth centuries, have expressed astonishment at the 
paucity of Irish industries, outside of linen, and have as- 
cribed it to Irish non-adaptability to manufacturing pur- 
suits! Not alone did England compel Ireland to fine her 
own traders, by levying export duties on their output, but 
she also, as we have seen, by her own Parliament, limited 
such exports to the meanest possible proportions ! Of course, 
at this slavish period of the old so-called Irish Parliament, 
duties to limit the importation of English goods and to 
foster home industries were not allowed. Ireland was 
stripped of everything but linen and "homespun," and then 
left a beggar. This is a most disgraceful chapter in the 

The People's History of Ireland 427 

history of the political connection of Great Britain and Ire- 
land one that led to untold bitterness, and that caused the 
great orator, Grattan, in after years to exclaim, prophetical- 
ly, in the Irish House of Commons : "What England tram- 
ples on in Ireland will rise to sting her in America !" He 
alluded to the Presbyterian and Catholic exodus, which so 
materially aided the American Revolution. 

The last hope of King James again attaining the throne 
of the "Three Kingdoms" disappeared with the terrible de- 
feat inflicted on the French fleet at the battle of La Hogue, 
1692, and, thereafter, his life was passed sadly for he had 
ample time to ruminate on his misfortunes at St. Germain, 
until he died, in 1701. His rival, William III, whose wife, 
Queen Mary II, had preceded him to the grave, died from 
the effects of a horseback accident, in March, 1702. He 
was immediately succeeded by Queen Anne, the last of the 
Stuart line who occupied the throne of England. Her reign 
was one of glory for Great Britain and one of hate and hor- 
ror for Ireland. We have already mentioned some of the 
penal laws passed while she held sway. Her ministers, of 
course, were responsible for her acts, because she herself 
possessed only moderate ability. Unlike most of the Stuart 
family, she swam with the current, and so got along smooth- 
ly with her English subjects. The most important domestic 
event of her reign was the legislative union of England with 
Scotland which virtually extinguished Scotland as a nation. 
This event occurred in May, 1707, and was accompanied by 
acts of the most shameless political profligacy on the part 
of the English minister and the Scotch lords and commons. 
In fact, the independence of Scotland, like that of Ireland 
ninety-three years later, was sold for titles, offices, pensions, 
and cold cash. The masses of the people, to do them justice, 

428 The People's History of Ireland 

had little to do with this nefarious transaction, which was 
subsequently satirized by the gicat Scottish poet, Robert 
Burns, in his lyric, one verse of which runs thus: 

"What English force could not subdue 

Through many warlike ages, 
Is sold now by a craven few 

For hireling traitors' wages! 
The English steel we could disdain 

Secure in valor's station 
But English gold has been our bane 

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation !" 

The deeds in arms of Anne's great general, Marlborough, 
who was a traitor to both King James and King William, 
have been partially related in the chapters bearing on the 
career of the Franco-Irish Brigade and need no farther men- 
tion in this history. 

In the days of William III appeared a pamphlet called 
"The Case of Ireland Stated," which was written by Wil- 
liam Molyneux, a member of Parliament, for the Dublin 
University. It appeared in 1698, and made, at once, a 
powerful impression on the public mind. It, in brief, took 
the ground that Ireland that is, Protestant, colonial Ire- 
land was, of right, a separate and independent kingdom; 
that England's original title of conquest, if she had any, was 
abrogated by charters granted to Ireland from time to time, 
and, finally, denied that the king and Parliament of England 
had power to bind the kingdom and people of Ireland by 
English-made laws. The English Parliament was, of course, 
greatly shocked and scandalized at the idea of a "mere Irish- 
man" putting forth such theories, and solemnly ordered his 
book to be burned, publicly, by "the common hangman" 
a functionary always in high favor when Ireland needs to 
be "disciplined." The book was burned accordingly, but 
its spirit did not die then, nor is it yet dead, or likely to die, 

The People's History of Ireland 429 

while Ireland contains a population. King William, in re- 
plying to the English Parliament's address on the subject of 
Molyneux's utterance, assured its members that "he would 
enforce the laws securing the dependence of Ireland on the 
imperial crown of Great Britain." 

In the chapter on the penal laws, many of the enactments 
of the reign of Anne have been summarized. Her sway 
was a moral nightmare over Ireland, and it is a remarkable 
historical coincidence that the Green Isle suffered more, ma- 
terially and morally, under the English female than the male 
sovereigns. Under Elizabeth and Anne, the Irish Catholics 
were persecuted beyond belief. Under Victoria's rule, which 
the British statistician, Mulhall, has called "the deadliest 
since Elizabeth," they starved to death by the hundred thou- 
sand or emigrated by the million. 

The regime of Queen Anne, like that of her predecessors 
and successors on the throne, gave the government of Ire- 
land into the hands of Englishmen, who held all the impor- 
tant offices, from the viceroyalty downward, and who chose 
their sub-officers from among the least national element of 
the Irish people. This system, although somewhat modified, 
continues to the present day. In the Irish Parliament, there 
was an occasional faint display of sectarian nationality, but 
it proved of little advantage when the English wanted mat- 
ters in that body to go as they wished. Ireland then, as 
a majority ruled by a minority, "stood on her smaller end," 
and so it is even in our own times, notwithstanding occa- 
sional "concessions" and "ameliorations." 

But, from the day when the pamphlet, or book, of Moly- 
neux saw the light, a Patriot party began to grow up in the 
Irish Parliament. The old Irish nation had, indeed, dis- 
appeared, for a period, but the new one soon began to mani- 

430 The People's History of Ireland 

fest a spirit that roused the bitter hatred of England. Such 
infatuated Irish Protestants as still believed that they would 
be more gently treated on account of common creed with 
the stronger people were soon bitterly undeceived. 

The death of Queen Anne, all of whose children by the 
Prince of Denmark had died before her, occurred in July, 
1714. It is said that she secretly favored the succession of 
her half-brother, acknowledged by Louis XIV, and the Jaco- 
bite party in Great Britain, as James III of that realm, but 
the last Duke of Ormond, the Earl of Orrery, Bishop Atter- 
bury, and Lord Bolingbroke, the Jacobite leaders in Eng- 
land, lost their nerve after the Queen's death and allowed 
the golden opportunity of proclaiming the exiled Stuart 
king to pass away. The Hanoverian faction, which called 
James "the Pretender," took advantage of their vacillation 
to proclaim the Elector of Hanover, who derived his claim 
from the Act of Succession or Settlement (which ignored 
the Stuart male line, or any of its Catholic collateral 
branches, and excluded them from the throne), under the 
title of George I. He derived his claim, such as it was, 
from James I, whose daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, had 
married the King of Bohemia. Her daughter, Sophia, mar- 
ried the Elector of Hanover and became mother of King 
George, who was a thorough German in speech, manner, 
and habit, although not in person or in manly charac- 
teristics. But he was a Protestant, and that sufficed for 
England. On August I, 1714, he was proclaimed in 
London and Edinburgh, and on the 8th of that month 
in Dublin. The Scotch Jacobites ridiculed his accession 
in a racy "skit," which began with 

"Oh, wha the deil hae we got for a king 
But a wee, wee German lairdie!" 

The People's History of Ireland 431 

Ireland, broken in spirit and disgusted by the memory of 
King James II, remained quiescent, but, in 1715, Scotland 
and a portion of the north of England rose in rebellion, 
the former under the Earl of Mar and the latter under young 
Lord Derwentwater. They were not heartily supported. 
Both met with defeat, and Derwentwater, together with sev- 
eral English and Scotch adherents of note, was captured, 
beheaded, and had his estates confiscated to the "crown." 
The English Parliament offered a reward of 50,000 ($250,- 
ooo) for the "apprehension" of "the Pretender," who had 
been previously "attainted," but there were no takers, "the 
Pretender" aforesaid being safely housed in Paris. This 
bloody episode ended Jacobite "risings" in Great Britain for 
a generation. 


Further Commercial Restrictions Continued Exodus of Working 

People Jonathan Swift "The Patriot Party" Tyranny 

of Primate Boulter 

O EEING that Ireland had taken no part in the attempted 
<-) Stuart revolution at the beginning of his reign, it might 
be imagined that George I showed some favor to the Irish 
people, but he did nothing" of the kind. On the contrary, 
the penal laws were enforced with greater virulence than 
ever, and several new enactments of a most oppressive char- 
acter chiefly bearing on the franchise were passed. In 
1719, the Patriot party in the Irish Parliament threw down 
a challenge to English supremacy. The Irish House of 
Lords annulled, on appeal, from the Dublin Court of Ex- 
chequer, a judgment in favor of one Annesley and gave it to 
the opposition litigant, Hester Sherlock. The former ap- 
pealed to the English lords, who overrode the decision of the 

432 The People's History of Ireland 

Irish House, by reversing judgment in favor of Annesley. 
As the sheriff in whose jurisdiction (Kildare) the writ ran 
refused to obey the English decree, he was heavily fined. 
The Irish House retaliated by remitting the fine, applauding 
the sheriff and arresting the judges of the Dublin court 
who had decided for Annesley. The anger of England be- 
came boundless, as it usually does when Ireland asserts itself, 
and the English Parliament, without color of right, passed 
the drastic enactment, known as the 6th of George I, which 
definitively bound Ireland by English enactments, and took 
the right of appeal away from the Irish House of Peers. 
Thus was the chain begun by the Poynings' Law, in the 
reign of Henry VII, made complete, and, at one fell swoop, 
Ireland was reduced to a provincial status. Thenceforth, 
until 1780, the Irish Parliament was merely a machine for 
registering the will of England, in the matter of Irish gov- 

At the same time, England continued her war on the few 
remaining Irish industries nothing seemed to satisfy the 
jealousy and covetousness of her merchants. The glaring 
outrages committed against the business of Ireland aroused 
the ire of the famous Jonathan Swift, Protestant Dean of 
St. Patrick's, who was the son of an Englishman. He 
wrote, anonymously, several bitter pamphlets against the 
selfish policy of England, and urged the Irish people to use 
nothing but native manufactures. In one of these fulmina- 
tions, he used the memorable phrase : "Burn everything that 
comes from England, except the coal!" But his patriotic 
influence rose to the zenith when he attacked "Wood's half- 
pence" base money coined to meet a financial emergency 
in 1723. His philippics became known as the "Drapier's 
letters" from the signature attached to them, and, in the 

The People's History of Ireland 433 

end, he compelled the government to cancel the contract 
with Wood. England foamed with rage, and had the printer 
of the letters prosecuted. However, no judge or jury in 
Dublin was found vile enough to convict him. 

Swift, although an Irish patriot, was a Protestant bigot, 
and detested the Celtic Catholics quite as much as he did the 
English, whom, from a political standpoint, he hated. Yet, 
he was the idol, during his long lifetime, of the Catholics, 
because he had stood by Ireland against the common enemy. 
This brilliant man, whose writings have made him immor- 
tal, and whose private sorrows can not be estimated, finally 
"withered at the top," and died insane, after having willed 
his property to be used for the building of a lunatic asylum 1 . 
In a poem written some time before his sad death, he alludes 
to his bequest in the following lines : 

"He left what little wealth he had 
To build a house for fools and mad 
To show, by one sarcastic touch, 
No nation needed one so much I" 

No writer better knew how to enrage the English. He 
took a savage delight in tormenting them, wounding their 
vanity, and exposing their weaknesses. Neither did he 
spare the Irish ; and, as for the Scotch, he rivaled Dr. Sam- 
uel Johnson in his dislike of that people. In our day, the 
average summer-up of merits and demerits would describe 
Jonathan Swift as "a gifted crank." 

Associated with him in the moral war against English 
interference in Ireland's domestic concerns were such other 
shining lights of the period as Dr. Sheridan, ancestor of 
Richard Brinsley, and others of that brilliant "ilk"; Dr. 
Stopford, the able Bishop of Cloyne, and Doctors Jackson, 
Helsham, Delaney, and Walmsley, nearly all men of almost 

434 The People's History of Ireland 

pure English descent. McGee also credits "the three rever- 
end brothers Grattan" a name subsequently destined to 
immortality with good work in the same connection. 

Whatever the private faults of Swift, Ireland must ever 
hold his memory in reverence, with those of many other 
Irish non-Catholic patriots, who, although they had little 
or no Celtic blood in their veins, and were brought up under 
English influences, nobly preferred the interests of their 
unfortunate native country to the smiles and favors of her 
oppressors. And so Ireland, considering these things, 


" The men of patriot pen, 

Swift, Molyneux, and Lucas," 

as fervently as if they belonged to the race of the Hy-Niall 
or Kinel-Conal. 

Nor must it be supposed that the Patriot element, led by 
Swift, escaped persecution at the hands of the Protestant oli- - 
garchy, although they, too, were of the Established Church. 
Swift himself was discriminated against all his life, because 
of his advocacy of Irish manufactures, his discrediting of 
Wood's "brass money," and his defeat of the mischievous 
national bank project, which was germane to it. As diocese 
after diocese became vacant in Ireland, he saw dullards 
promoted to the sees, while he was deliberately overlooked, 
simply because he had advocated justice to Ireland! This 
injustice afterward passed into a proverb. Said an Irish 
orator, in after years, speaking of another great Irishman 
who had also suffered from English resentment: "The 
curse of Swift was upon him to have been born an Irish- 
man, to have been blessed with talents, and to have used 
those talents for the benefit of his country !" 

But Swift was not the only sufferer. There were other 

The People's History of Ireland 435 

distinguished offenders against English sentiment. It is 
true they had not provoked the government by their writ- 
ings to offer a reward of 300 for their identity, as was 
Swift's fortune, but they had done enough to be made "hor- 
rible examples" of. Thus, Right Rev. Dr. Browne, Prot- 
estant Bishop of Cork, had been threatened with depriva- 
tion for protesting against the insulting language toward 
Catholics contained in the notorious Orange toast to the 
memory of William III ; and Dr. Sheridan was deprived of 
his "living" in Munster, because, says McGee, "he accidental- 
ly chose for his text on the anniversary of King George's 
coronation: 'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof!' 
Such," he continues, "was the intolerance of the oligarchy 
toward their own clergy. What must it have been to 
others !" 

About this period, too, the differences between Episcopa- 
lians and Nonconformists the latter having again repu- 
diated the test oaths became more bitter than ever. Swift 
took sides against the Dissenters, whom, as a fierce Church 
of England champion, he despised. "They were glad," he 
said, they or their fathers, "to leave their barren hills of 
Lochaber for the fruitful vales of Down and Antrim." He 
denied to them, with bitter scorn, the title they had assumed 
of "Brother Protestants," and as to the Papists they af- 
fected to contemn, they were, in his opinion, "as much su- 
perior to the Dissenters as a lion, though chained and 
clipped of its claws, is a stronger and nobler animal than 
an angry cat, at liberty to fly at the throats of true church- 
men." Of course, the Church of England faction triumphed 
and the exodus of the Nonconformists from Ireland re- 
ceived a fresh impetus. "Outraged," says McGee, "in 
their dearest civil and religious rights, thousands of the 

436 The People's History of Ireland 

Scoto-Irish of Ulster, and the Milesian and Anglo-Irish 
of the other provinces, preferred to encounter the perils 
of the wild Atlantic rather than abide under the yoke and 
lash of such an oligarchy. In the year 1729, five thousand 
six hundred Irish landed at the single port of Philadelphia ; 
in the next ten years they furnished to the Carolinas and 
Georgia the majority of their immigrants; before the end 
of this reign [George I] several thousands of heads of fam- 
ilies, all bred and married in Ireland, were rearing up a 
free posterity along the slopes of the Blue Ridge in Vir- 
ginia and Maryland, and even as far north as the valleys 
of the Hudson and the Merrimac. In the ranks of the 
thirteen United Colonies, the descendants of those Irish 
Nonconformists were to repeat, for the benefit of George 
III, the lesson and example their ancestors had taught to 
James II at Inniskillen and Derry." 

We do not purpose entering into a chronological account 
of the several viceroys most of them rather obscure 
who represented English misgovernment in Ireland during 
the reigns of the early Georges. They simply followed out 
the old programme of oppression and repression with tire- 
some monotony. No matter who "held court" in Dublin 
Castle, the policy of England toward Ireland remained un- 
changed. If ever there came a lull in the. course of system- 
atic persecution, it followed immediately on some reverse 
of the English arms on the Continent of Europe. An En- 
glish victory meant added taxes and further coercion for 
the Irish Catholics and Dissenters. 

George I had died in 1727, leaving behind him an un- 
savory moral reputation, and regretted by nobody in Eng- 
land, except his Hanoverian mistresses, who were noted for 
their pinguid ugliness. He was succeeded without opposi- 

The People's History of Ireland 437 

tion by his son, who mounted the throne as George II. He, 
too, was small of stature, un-English in language and ap- 
pearance, and inherited the vices of his father. He was 
not deficient in personal bravery, as he proved at Dettin- 
gen, and elsewhere, in after times, and he had the distinc- 
tion of being the last k'ng of England who appeared upon 
a field of battle. 

The penal code was continued in full force during most 
of thi. r * ; ~:*, although it had lost favor among the English 
go erning class in the time of the king's father, when the 
Protestant Ascendency party in the Irish Commons brazenly 
proposed to the English Privy Council the passage of an 
act whereby a proscribed prelate or priest arrested in Ire- 
land would be made to suffer indecent mutilation. Bad as 
the English privy councilors generally were, where Ireland 
was concerned, they would not stomach such revolting sav- 
agery, and the hideous proposition was heard of no more. 
And yet England, knowing the ferocious character of the 
fanatics who proposed it, left Ireland virtually helpless in 
their hands! She could have, at any time, put an end to 
the intolerable persecutions visited upon the masses of the 
people by a heartless oligarchy, actuated about equally by 
cupidity and fierce intolerance. Had she done so, she might 
have won the Irish heart, as France won that of German 
Alsace and Italian Corsica, but she preferred to use one 
section of the Irish people against the other, in her lust of 
empire, and "Divide and Conquer" became, as in the Eliza- 
bethan times, the pith of her Irish policy. 

The great English minister, Sir Robert Walpole, im- 
pressed by the necessity of breaking down the spirit of inde- 
pendence evoked by Swift and his able and patriotic col- 
leagues, who had indeed "breathed a new soul" into the 

438 The People's History of Ireland 

Ireland of their day, appointed that inveterate politician 
and corrupt diplomat, Lord Carteret, viceroy. He also pro- 
moted the Right Rev. Hugh Boulter, Bishop of Bristol, 
also an Englishman of the virulent type, to the Arch- 
bishopric of Armagh the primal see of Ireland. Boulter 
was Castlereagh's precursor in policy. Possessed of high 
office and vast wealth, he did not hesitate to use both pres- 
tige and money in the interests of England, and his cor- 
ruption of many members of the Irish Parliament was so 
open and flagrant as to scandalize even the brazen chiefs 
of the atrocious "Court party" the Praetorean guard of 
Lord Carteret. This unscrupulous churchman was the vir- 
tual head of the English interest in Ireland for eighteen 
years, and, within that period, overshadowing even vice- 
regal authority, he made the English name more hated 
among not alone the Celtic, but the Scoto and Anglo-Irish 
than it had been for a century. He was the greatest per- 
secutor of the Catholics that had appeared since the period 
of Cromwell, and he it was who manipulated the machinery 
of Parliament to deprive them of the last vestige of their 
civil and religious liberty in the closing days of the brutal 
reign, in Ireland, of George I. Nor did the Presbyterians 
and other dissenters fare much better at his hands. His 
black career terminated in 1742, and a weight of horror 
was lifted from Ireland's heart when the welcome news of 
his death spread rapidly, far and wide, over the persecuted 

What made "Primate Boulter" particularly odious to the 
Catholic people of Ireland was his institution of the "Char- 
ter Schools" used openly and insultingly for the perver- 
sion of the majority of the population from the Roman 
Catholic faith. Since that period, English politicians have 

The People's History of Ireland 439 

not hesitated to use the influence of the Roman See, with 
more or less success, to curb political movements in Ire- 
land. Even then, when England was enforcing the penal 
laws against the Irish Catholics with fire and sword, she 
was the ally of Catholic Austria against the French, and 
glibly advocated toleration for the Protestants of the Haps- 
burg empire, while her "priest-hunters" industriously earned 
their putrid "blood money" in unfortunate, Catholic Ire- 
land. We may say, in passing, that Primate Boulter was 
succeeded in the primacy by another Englishman, Right 
Rev. George Stone, who proved himself worthy of his 


Official Extravagance Charles Lucas, Leader of Irish Opposition 

Chesterfield Viceroy His Recall Dorset's Vile 


AN attempt made in 1729 to place an extortionate es- 
timate on the public expenses, and which emanated 
from "the Castle of Dublin," had the effect of consolidating 
the Irish opposition in Parliament. These legislators pro- 
tested in a dignified manner against extravagance in public 
expenditure. Under the administration of the Duke of 
Devonshire, in 1737, they set their faces against his method 
of corrupting the public conscience by a display of lavish 
generosity, which is always popular in a capital where trade 
depends to a great extent on courtly favor. The leaders 
in the House of Commons were Sir Edward O'Brien, of 
the House of Inchiquin; his son, Sir Lucius; the Speaker, 
Henry Boyle, and Mr. Anthony Malone, whose father had 
been an efficient ally of Sir Toby Butler, in defending Cath- 
olic rights under the articles of Limerick. 

44 The People's History of Ireland 

These gentlemen were ably assisted by Dr. Charles Lucas, 
who, although not a member of the House, possessed a vast 
outside influence, because of his great talent and moral 
worth. The doctor was also a druggist by profession, but 
could use a virile pen even better than he could a pestle and 
mortar. In 1741, he began hammering the government in 
public prints, on the lines of Molyneux and Swift, and with 
almost as great success. But "the Castle" censor came 
down upon him, and he was compelled to leave Ireland for 
a period. Like Swift, he was rather antagonistic to Cath- 
olic claims, but, as in the case of the great Dean, the Cath- 
olics forgave him because he was true to Ireland. After 
some years of exile, he returned to Dublin, was elected to 
Parliament, and became a leader of the Patriots in the 
House of Commons. In the House of Lords, the Earl of 
Kildare, afterward first Duke of Leinster, was the Patriot 

The famous Earl of Chesterfield became Viceroy of Ire- 
land in 1745, and showed, from the first, a thorough dis- 
gust for the penal laws and the oligarchs who supported 
them. He connived at Catholic toleration to such an extent 
that he became an object of suspicion, if not of hatred, to 
the Ascendency faction. The government of England, with 
habitual cunning, had selected this finished courtier to rule 
in Ireland, because of disquieting rumors of an invasion of 
Great Britain contemplated by Charles Edward Stuart, son 
of "the Pretender," James III. Also, about the same time, 
came the stirring news of the victory oi the Irish Brigade, 
in alliance with the French, over the Duke of Cumber- 
land's column at glorious Fontenoy. "Accursed," old 
George II is said to have exclaimed, on being told of the 
Franco-Irish victory, "accursed be the laws that deprive 

The People's History of Ireland 441 

me of such soldiers!" But Chesterfield was, in reality, 
friendly to the Irish, He liked their wit and esprit and 
took no pains to conceal the fact, greatly to the disgust of 
the Ascendency clique. But Charles Edward's attempt to 
recover the British crown utterly failed. Highland Scot- 
land fought for him heroically. The Jacobites of England 
held, for the most part, aloof, and, beyond the officers of 
the Irish Brigade, who went with him from France, Ireland 
hardly furnished a man to aid his hardy and romantic en- 
terprise thus showing how completely her spirit was sub- 
dued during that momentous crisis. Charles Edward was 
a leader that, in the preceding century, the Irish would have 
been proud to follow. He was a great improvement on 
both his sire and grandsire, although he ended miserably, 
in his old age, a career begun so gloriously in his youth. 

Chesterfield remained only eight months in his Irish office. 
He was recalled within ten days after the battle of Culloden. 
There was no further need, for the time being, to conciliate 
the Irish. The heir of the unhappy Stuarts was a houseless 
wanderer in the land over which his forefathers had reigned 
for centuries and their cause was hopelessly lost. The Earl 
and Countess of Chesterfield, on their departure from Dub- 
lin, received "a popular ovation." They walked on foot, 
arm in arm, from the viceregal residence to the wharf, where 
lay the vessel that was to bear them back to England, and 
the warm-hearted, "too easily deluded people" prayed loud 
and fervently for their speedy return. They came back no 
more, but Chesterfield was enabled to assure George II, when 
he reached London, that the only "dangerous Papist" he 
had seen in Ireland was the lovely Miss Ambrose, afterward 
Mrs. Palmer, Dublin's reigning beauty of the period. Ches- 
terfield made much of her at "the Castle," and laughed po- 

The People's History of Ireland 

litely at the bigots who looked upon her as a species of De- 
lilah. As Miss Ambrose enjoyed, also, the friendship of 
Lady Chesterfield, her enemies could evoke no scandal from 
the platonic intimacy. The earl's mild, insinuating system of 
government had enabled him to spare four regiments from 
Ireland for service in Scotland, during the Jacobite insur- 
rection. His "Principles of Politeness," practically applied, 
were much more effective in the cause of the House of Han- 
over than all the repressive enactments of the vicious bigots 
of the party of Ascendency. 

The last Jacobite expedition was organized in France, in 

1759, and was under orders of an admiral named Con- 
flans, who, when a short distance out from Brest, was en- 
countered by an English fleet under Admiral Hawke and 
totally defeated. A wing of this expedition, under Commo- 
dore Thurot, whose real name was O'Farrell, did not arrive 
in time to take part in the battle, but succeeded in entering 
the British Channel without interruption. A storm arose 
which drove Thurot's five frigates to seek shelter in Norway 
and the Orkney Islands, where they wintered. In the spring, 
one frigate made its way back to France. Another sailed 
with a similar object, but was never heard from afterward. 
The remaining three, under Thurot, made for the Irish 
coast and entered Lough Foyle, but made no attempt on 
Londonderry. They soon headed for Belfast Lough, and 
appeared before Carrickfergus about the end of February, 

1760. Thurot demanded the surrender of the place, which 
was stoutly refused by the military governor, Colonel Jen- 
nings. The Franco-Irish sailor immediately landed his fight- 
ing men and took the town by a rapid and furious assault. 
Then he levied on the place for supplies and again put to 
sea. Off the Isle of Man he fell in with three newly com- 

The People's History of Ireland 443 

missioned ships of war under the English Commodore, 
Elliott. A sanguinary encounter followed. Thurot, alias 
O'Farrell, and three hundred of his marines and sailors were 
killed. The French vessels were fearful wrecks, and the 
victorious English towed them in a sinking condition into 
Ramsay. Thus terminated one of the most gallant naval 
episodes of the eighteenth century. 

When the Earl of Harrington, afterward Duke of Devon- 
shire, became Lord Lieutenant some time after the recall of 
Lord Chesterfield, the odious Primate Stone accused both 
in England and Ireland of unspeakable immorality ruled 
Ireland as completely as had his less filthy predecessor, Pri- 
mate Boulter. Ireland, at the outset of the new regime, was 
astonished to find a respectable surplus in her treasury, and 
Lord Chesterfield, who always, while he lived, took a deep 
interest in Irish affairs, sent a congratulatory letter on the 
seeming prosperity of the country to his friend, the Bishop 
of Waterford. The Patriot party in the Commons, led by 
the sagacious and eloquent Malone, advocated the expendi- 
ture of the surplus on public works and needed public build- 
ings throughout Ireland and in the capital. But Stone and 
the Castle ring fought the proposition bitterly, contending 
that the money belonged to the crown and could be drawn by 
royal order on the vice-treasurer, without regard to Par- 
liament. When the Duke of Dorset succeeded Harrington 
as viceroy, in 1751, the question had reached an acute stage. 
Opposition to the royal claim on the Irish surplus had led 
to the expulsion of Dr. Lucas from Ireland. But Malone 
and Speaker Boyle kept up the fight in the Commons, and, 
after having sustained one defeat, on a full vote, finally 
came out victorious by having the supply bill, which cov- 
ered all government service in the kingdom, thrown out by 

444 The People's History of Ireland 

a vote of 122 to 117. Government showed its resentment 
by canceling Malone's patent of precedence as Prime Ser- 
geant, and striking Speaker Boyle's name from the list of 
privy-councilors. This was outrageous enough, but what 
followed was still more so. The king (George II) by ad- 
vice of Dorset, Stone, and their clique, overrode the action 
of the Irish Parliament and despotically, by operation of 
a king's letter, withdrew the long-disputed surplus from the 
Irish national treasury. This crowning infamy was con- 
summated in 1753, and so great became public indignation 
that Stone and the obnoxious ministers were mobbed, and 
the Duke of Dorset could not appear on the streets of Dub- 
lin without being hooted at and otherwise insulted. Anglo- 
Ireland seemed on the brink of revolution, but the popular 
leaders took a conservative attitude and thus avoided a 
violent crisis. Dorset, alarmed by the tempest he had him- 
self created, virtually fled from Dublin, followed by the 
execration of the multitude. He left the government in the 
hands of three Lords Justices, one of whom was Primate 
Stone, whose very name was hateful to the incensed people. 

The viceroy was followed to England by the popular 
leader of the Irish House of Lords, James Fitz-Gerald, 2Oth 
Earl of Kildare, who had married the daughter of the 
Duke of Richmond, and, consequently, had a powerful En- 
glish backing. Kildare presented to King George, in per- 
son, a memorial in which he strongly denounced the mis- 
government of Ireland by Dorset, Stone, and Lord George 
Sackville, Dorset's intermeddling son. This memorial has 
been described as "the boldest ever addressed by a subject 
to a sovereign." 

Although Lord Holderness, an English courtier, in a 
letter to Chancellor Jocelyn, says that the bold Geraldine 

The People's History of Ireland 445 

"was but ill-received and very coolly dismissed" by the 
king, Kildare's policy soon prevailed in Ireland. Dorset 
was recalled in the succeeding year, and Primate Stone, with 
whom Kildare refused to act as Lord Justice, was removed 
from the ministry of Ireland. 

The Duke of Devonshire, formerly Lord Harrington, or 
Hartington, succeeded Dorset, and immediately began the 
congenial work, to an English statesman, of breaking up, 
and rendering harmless, the Irish Patriot party. Boyle was 
made Chancellor of the Exchequer and was raised to the 
peerage as the Earl of Shannon, receiving also a pension 
of 2,000 per annum for thirty-one years. Malone would 
have accepted the Lord Chancellorship gladly, but was re- 
strained by both private and public opinion from doing so 
openly. But Mitchel says that while Boyle remained nom- 
inal chancellor, Malone quietly pocketed the profits of the 
position, and his patriotic eloquence declined in proportion 
to the growth of his profits. Other leaders of the Patriot 
party were also "taken care of," and England managed to 
get rid of one of her most troublesome "Irish difficulties." 

The purchased Patriots, however, may be fairly cred- 
ited with having forced the beginning of the public works, 
such as canals and highways, in Ireland, and the construc- 
tion of some of those splendid official edifices which still, 
even in their decay, "lend an Italian glory to the Irish 

Lord Kildare stands accused of having entered into the 
negotiations with the new viceroy for the "placation" of 
the Patriot party in the Commons. Such, however, were 
the political "morals" of the times, and the offices were, 
nominally at least, Irish and, therefore, quasi, not fully, 
national seeing that Ireland was what might be called a 

446 The People's History of Ireland 

semi-independent colonial province, distrustful of England, 
but without strength or resolution to snap her chains. The 
earl soon became Marquis of Kildare, and, subsequently, 
Duke of Leinster, but he is best remembered as the father 
of the gallant, unselfish, and devoted Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald, of 1798 fame. 

An attempt made, in March, 1756, to pass a bill in the 
Irish Commons to vacate the seats of such members as 
should accept "any pension or civil office of profit from 
the crown," was defeated by a vote of 85 to 59 thus giv- 
ing plain notice to the English viceroy that the Parliament 
was up for auction, and, within less than fifty years from 
that date, it was, accordingly, like that of Scotland, "knocked 
down to the highest bidder." How could it be otherwise? 
when, as Mitchel truly says in his Continuation of Mc- 
Geoghegan's "History of Ireland," "The English Protestant 
colony in Ireland, which aspired to be a nation, amounted 
to something under half a million of souls, in 1754. It 
was out of the question that it should be united on a foot- 
ing of equality with its potent mother country by 'the 
golden link of the crown,' because the wearer of that crown 
was sure to be guided in his policy by English ministers, 
in accordance with English interests; and, as the army was 
the king's army, he could always enforce that policy. The 
fatal weakness of the colony was that it would not amalga- 
mate with the mass of the Irish people (i.e. the Catholics) 
so as to form a true nation, but set up the vain pretension 
to hold down a whole disfranchised people with one hand 
and defy all England with the other." And this insensate 
policy was pursued, with little modification, to the end, 
and in the end proved fatal to both "the colony" and the 

The People's History of Ireland 447 


More Persecution of Catholics Under George II Secret Committee 
Formed Snubbed by the Speaker Received by the Vice- 
roy Anti-Union Riot in Dublin 

TH HE Duke of Bedford became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 
1 in 1757, and came as a "conciliator," with a smile on 
his face "and a bribe in his pocket." His mission was to 
"soften" the penal laws, which had again become too scan- 
dalous for the "liberal" and "civilized" reputation of Eng- 
land on the Continent. One Miss O'Toole, a Catholic, had 
been pressed by some Protestant friends to "conform" to 
the Established Church, so as to avoid persecution, and fled 
to the house of a relative named Saul, who resided in Dub- 
lin, in order to escape disagreeable importunity. Mr. Saul 
was prosecuted and convicted, under the penal code, and the 
judge who "tried" the case said, in his charge, that "Papists 
had no rights," because the "law" under which poor Saul 
was punished "did not," in the language of the court, "pre- 
sume a Papist to exist in the kingdom, nor could Papists 
so much as breathe the air without the connivance of govern- 
ment !" This judge, harsh as his language may now seem, 
did not misstate the case, for such, indeed, was the bar- 
barous "law of the land" at that period, and for a consid- 
erable time afterward. 

The bigots in the Irish Commons, soon after the arrival 
of the Duke of Bedford in Dublin, had prepared a new and 
even more 1 drastic bill of penalties against Catholics than 
already existed, and so intolerable were its proposals that 
several leading Catholics among "the nobility, gentry, and 

Ireland 20 Vol. I 

448 The People's History of Ireland 

professional [clandestinely] classes" got together, and, after 
a time, formed, in out-of-the-way meeting places, the first 
"Catholic Committee" of Ireland the precursor, by the 
way, of the many similar organizations conducted by John 
Keogh, Daniel O'Connell, and other Catholic leaders of suc- 
ceeding generations. 

The chief men of this committee were Charles O'Conor, 
the Irish scholar and antiquary; Dr. Curry, the historical 
reviewer; Mr. Wyse, a leading merchant of the city of 
Waterford; Lords Fingal, Devlin, Taaffe, and some others 
less known to fame. These amiable gentlemen were, at 
first, frightened by the sound of their own voices, but they 
gradually grew bolder, although they did not proceed far 
enough to bring down upon their heads the full wrath of 
"government." Indeed, they were, on most occasions, ob- 
sequiously "loyal" to the "crown," which meant the English 
king and connection. But the iron had entered their souls, 
and the stain of its corrosion lingered long in their veins. 
When the Duke of Bedford, by the instructions of the elder 
Pitt (Chatham), who acted for King George, informed the 
Irish Parliament that France contemplated a new invasion 
and called upon the Irish people to show their loyalty to the 
House of Hanover, Charles O'Conor drew up an abjectly 
"loyal" address, which was signed by 300 leading Catho- 
lics, and had it presented at the bar of the House of Com- 
mons (Dublin) by Messrs. Antony MacDermott and John 
Crump. The speaker, Mr. Ponsonby, received the document 
in dead silence, laid it on the table in front of him, and coolly 
bowed the delegation out. The Duke of Bedford, however, 
took "gracious" notice of the address, and caused his answer 
thereto, which was appreciative England being then in 
mortal terror of the French to be printed in the Dublin 

The People's History of Ireland 449 

"Gazette," which was the "government's" official organ. 
And the poor Catholic gentlemen, who had signed the cring- 
ing document, went into convulsions of joy because of this 
"official recognition" of their slavish professions of "loy- 
alty" to a foreign king, who cared less for them than for the 
blacks of the West Indies! 

But Mitchel, the Protestant historian, who understood 
his country's sad story better, perhaps, than any writer who 
ever dealt with it, makes for the Catholic committee this 
ingenious apology: "We may feel indignant," says he, "at 
the extreme humility of the proceedings of the committee, 
and lament that the low condition of our countrymen at 
that time left no alternative but that of professing a hypo- 
critical 'loyalty' to their oppressors; for the only other al- 
ternative was secret organization to prepare an insurrection 
for the total extirpation of the English colony in Ireland, 
and, carefully disarmed as the Catholics were [and still 
are], they, doubtless, felt this to be an impossible project. 
Yet, for the honor of human nature, it is necessary to state 
the fact that this profession of loyalty, to a king of Eng- 
land, was, in reality, insincere. Hypocrisy, in such a case, 
is less disgraceful than would have been a genuine canine 
attachment to the hand that smote and to the foot that 

But Bedford, in his policy of conciliation, had even a 
deeper motive than fear of France. The statesmen of Eng- 
land, jealous of even the poor and almost impotent colonial 
Parliament of Ireland, so early as 1759, contemplated that 
"legislative union," which was to be effected in later times. 
Bedford's design was the truly English one of arraying the 
Irish Catholics against the Protestant nationalists, who had, 
with England's willing aid, so cruelly persecuted them. 

45 The People's History of Ireland 

When this project got mooted abroad, the Protestant mob 
of Dublin the Catholics were too cowed at the time to 
act, and their leaders were committed to Bedford by their 
address rose in their might, on December 3, 1759, sur- 
rounded the Houses of Parliament and uttered tumultuous 
shouts of "No Union! no Union!" They stopped every 
member of Parliament, as he approached to enter the 
House, and made him swear that he would oppose the 
union project. They violently assaulted the Lord Chan- 
cellor, whom they believed to be a Unionist, together with 
many other lords, spiritual and secular, and "ducked" one 
member of the Privy Council in the river Liffey. The 
Speaker and Secretary of the House of Commons had to ap- 
pear in the portico of the House and solemnly assure the 
people that no union was contemplated. Even this assur- 
ance did not quell the tumult, and, finally, a fierce charge 
of dragoons and the bayonets of a numerous infantry, ac- 
companied by a threat of using cannon, cleared the streets. 
Following up the policy of "conciliation," the Catholic lead- 
ers, with slavish haste, repudiated the actions of the Prot- 
estant mob, and thus produced a contemptuous bitterness 
in the Protestant mind, which aggravated the factious feel- 
ing in the unfortunate country. England's work was well 
done. She had planted, as a small seed, the idea of ab- 
sorbing the Irish Parliament some day, and was willing to 
let it take its own time to ripen into Dead Sea fruit for 
Ireland. The Catholic helot had been cunningly played off 
against his Protestant oppressor, and thus the subject nation 
had been made the forger of its own fetters at least in 
appearance, although England was the real artificer. Many 
Catholics in humble life may have joined in the Dublin anti- 
union riots, but the Cathofic chiefs, who had their own axe 

The People's History of Ireland 451 

to grind, were resolved to appear "loyal" all the more so 
because some of the Protestant leaders in the late disorders 
sought to fasten the responsibility on the members of the 
proscribed faith. The outbreak, as was well known, was 
mainly the work of the followers of Dr. Lucas, then in ex- 
ile, but soon to be a Member of Parliament, and the fiercest 
opponent of a legislative union with Great Britain. 

"It deserves remark," says a historian of the period, 
"that on this first occasion, when a project of a legislative 
union was really entertained by an English ministry, thtt 
Patriot party which opposed it was wholly and exclusively 
of the Protestant colony, and that the Catholics of Ireland 
were totally indifferent, and, indeed, they could not ration- 
ally be otherwise, as it was quite impossible for them to 
feel an attachment to a national legislature in which they 
were not represented, and for whose members they could 
not even cast a vote." 

George II died of "rupture of the heart" probably from 
the bursting of an arterial aneurism in that region in 1760. 
He was never popular in England, because of his German 
ways and affections, and the Irish people regarded him with 
indifference. They had never seen him, and he was about 
as much of a stranger in his Irish realm as the Shah of 
Persia or the Khan of Tartary. His reign had lasted 
twenty-eight years, and, in all that period, the estimated 
population of Ireland for there was no regular census 
increased only 60,000. Presbyterian and Catholic emigra- 
tion to the colonies superinduced by the penal laws against 
both was mainly the cause of this remarkable stagnation. 
There had been two famines also, and the victims of artifi- 
cial scarcity a condition produced by restrictions on trade 
and manufacture were numerous. 

452 The People's History of Ireland 


Accession of George III His Character Boasts of Being "a Briton" 
Death of Dr. Lucas Lord Townsend's Novel Idea of Gov- 
erning Ireland Septennial Parliament Refused 

THE long reign of George III, grandson of the late 
monarch, began in the month of October, 1760, when 
he had attained the age of 2.2, years. His father, Fred- 
erick Louis, Prince of Wales, was a dissolute and almost 
imbecile person, and was hated by his own father, George 
II, with a most unnatural hatred. No doubt he, in great 
measure, deserved it, for a member of his own family 
described Frederick Louis as being "the greatest brute and 
ass in Christendom." George III, when he mounted the 
English throne, was a dull, commonplace young man, with- 
out pronounced personal vices, but exceedingly obstinate 
and subject to spells of temper, when strongly opposed, 
that gave assurance of future mental weakness. He was 
not, by nature, cruel, but circumstances developed gross 
cruelty under his regime, in India, in America, and in Ire- 
land. He had enough of the Stuart blood in him to be a 
stickler for "the right divine" of kings, and he was enough 
of a Guelph to have his own way with even his most per- 
suasive ministers. His father's politics, so far as he had 
any, leaned toward Whiggery, but after that prince's death 
his mother had placed him under the tutelage of the Mar- 
quis of Bute, who was an ardent Tory. Consequently, the 
young king had had the advantage of being taught in the 
two great English schools of policy, but, in the long run, 
the Tory in his nature prevailed over the Whig, and George 
III finally developed into a fierce and intolerant desoot. 

The People's History of Ireland 453 

All that could be said in his favor was that, after he mar- 
ried and he married young his court became, at once, a 
model of propriety and dulness. The painted harlots, fos- 
tered by his grandfather and great-grandfather, were not 
succeeded by others of their kind, and the prudent mothers 
of England no longer feared to allow their handsome 
daughters to enter the precincts of the royal palace. The 
English masses were, at first, greatly astonished at the 
personal purity of their sovereign, but, after a while, be- 
came reconciled to the belief that a monarch need not, 
necessarily, be a libertine. 

King George evidently borrowed a leaf from the book 
of Queen Anne when he assumed the crown. She had as- 
sured her subjects that hers was "an entirely English heart." 
George's first address from the throne opened with the words, 
"Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of 
Briton." Coming from a king, this sentiment, addressed to 
a people in general so fervidly "loyal" as the English, pro- 
duced a most favorable effect, and, to the end of his long 
reign, was never forgotten, even when his mule-like ob- 
stinacy wellnigh goaded them to desperation. George III, 
from first to last, in his love of domination, impatience of 
opposition, carelessness of the rights of other peoples, ego- 
tism, intolerance, and commercial greed, stood for John 
Bull. Behind John Bull stood England, very much as she 
still stands to-day. The address continued by declaring 
that the civil and religious rights of his "loving subjects" 
were equally dear to him with the most valuable preroga- 
tives of the crown. It was his fixed purpose, he said, to 
countenance and encourage the practice of true religion and 
virtue. The eyes of all Europe, he declared, were on that 
Parliament and from it "the Protestant interest hoped for 

454 The People's History of Ireland 

protection." At the end of the speech, King George in- 
timated that the toleration of the Catholics that is, con- 
nivance at their existence, particularly in Ireland would 
not be interfered with. But the penal statutes remained 
unrepealed, and the Irish Catholics continued to be perse- 
cuted, although rather less brutally, particularly as regarded 
their religious observances, in their own country. They 
were not allowed to vote, or hold office, or have any say 
whatever in public affairs, although they were subject to 
taxes and fines. They could not be educated, and were 
debarred from practicing any profession under long-estab- 
lished penalties. In short, they were very little better off 
during the earlier years of George Ill's reign than under 
the sway of his two immediate predecessors. 

The Irish Protestant mind, however, did not lose its patri- 
otic impulse, because of the interested silence of Malone, 
Boyle, and the former leaders of the Patriot party. Mem- 
bers of Parliament had hitherto been elected to serve dur- 
ing the life of the sovereign, and, in the beginning of the 
reign of George III, the new Irish Parliament began an 
earnest agitation for octennial Parliaments. Among the 
able men some of them destined to be famous who were 
elected to the new body were Hussey Burgh, Dennis Bowes 
Daly, Henry Flood, and Dr. Lucas. It should have been 
stated that the original Irish demand was for a seven years' 
Parliament, and bills were passed, in 1761 and 1763, em- 
bodying the proposition, but the king and English Privy 
Council, to whom they had to be submitted, under the 
Poynings' Act, coolly "pocketed" them, and they were heard 
of no more. This arbitrary conduct of an alien monarch, 
and advisory body, aroused great public indignation, and the 
clamor became so loud, in 1767, that, finally, the bill was re- 

The People's History of Ireland 455 

turned from England, changed to octennial, or eight years, 
and, with this amendment, it passed the Irish Parliament 
and received the royal sanction in February of the succeed- 
ing year. Under the new act, a Parliament was elected in 
1768, and all the advocates of the new dispensation were 
re-elected. Where all did noble work, it is not detracting 
from their merit to remark that Dr. Lucas was the real 
leader of the movement, and was generally recognized as 
such. He lived only two years after his great triumph, and 
was almost universally mourned the only exceptions being 
the members of the corrupt Court party. He was formally 
eulogized in the Irish House of Commons, and at his funeral 
the pall-bearers were Lord Kildare, Lord Charlemont, 
Henry Flood, Sir Lucius O'Brien, Hussey Burgh, and 
Speaker Ponsonby. 

The Patriot party continued, in the new Parliament, under 
the administration of Lord Townsend, a vigorous opposi- 
tion to unjust pension lists, and other evils which afflicted 
the nation. The Lord Lieutenant, who was jolly and persua- 
sive, also corrupt, attempted to break up the opposition after 
the good old English fashion, but made no impression on 
the able phalanx led by Flood, who, after the death of Lu- 
cas, was looked upon as the chief of the Patriot element in 
the Commons. Kildare, notwithstanding his peculiar action 
in the days of Malone, et aL, continued to champion the popu- 
lar cause in the House of Peers. Resistance to the supply 
bill, which changed the Irish military establishment from 
12,000 to 15,000 men, brought about the prorogation of 
Parliament session after session for nearly two years. 
Meanwhile, the Castle was quietly "seeing" the members, 
and, in spite of Flood and Speaker Ponsonby, an address of 
confidence, carried by a bare majority, was passed by the 

456 The People's History of Ireland 

Commons. The Speaker refused to present it and resigned 
his post. A Mr. Perry was elected to succeed him, and, for 
a time, it looked as if the Patriots might be broken up. But 
Mr. Perry, in spite of his suspicious conduct in accepting 
the speakership, vacated by his friend, Mr. Ponsonby, re- 
mained faithful to Irish interests and the ranks of the oppo- 
sition became even more formidable than before. 

Lord Townsend, the jolly old corruptionist, became so 
unpopular that nearly every public print in Dublin was 
filled with lampoons upon him, and, finally, he requested 
retirement and was succeeded by Lord Harcourt, in 1772. 
He began well, but ended badly, as is usual with English 
viceroys in Ireland, who have seldom failed to fall eventu- 
ally under Dublin Castle influences. He attempted to throw 
unjust burdens on Ireland, but was resisted at every point, 
particularly when he sought to make the supply bill extend 
over two years instead of one. Henry Flood delivered one 
of his best speeches in opposition to this dishonest innova- 
tion. Hussey Burgh promised that if any member in future 
brought in such a bill he would move his expulsion. But the 
climax was reached when the Hon. George Ogle, of Wex- 
ford, author of the well-known lyric, "Molly Astore," which 
has retained its popularity for more than a century, pro- 
posed that the bill, as introduced, be burned by the hangman. 
The Speaker reminded Mr. Ogle that the document was 
decorated with the great seal. "Then," replied the witty 
poet, "it will burn all the better!" Mr. Ogle's suggestion 
was not carried out, but the bill was subsequently modified 
to suit the ideas of the House of Commons. 

The People's History of Ireland 457 


The Peace of Paris Agrarian Warfare in Ireland Judicial Murder 

of Father Sheehy All who Swore Against Him Die Violent 

Deaths Secret Societies 

THE Peace of Paris, 1763, brought the Seven Years' 
War to a conclusion on the Continent of Europe. 
Frederick the Great retained Silesia, formerly an Austrian 
province, to which he had no just title; and there were 
other territorial changes of less importance. England had 
triumphed over the French interest in America ; for Wolfe's 
victory of the Plains of Abraham, at Quebec, in Septem- 
ber, 1759, decided the game of war in favor of the British, 
although other battles were fought by the opposing forces 
after that event. 

Agrarian oppression in Ireland, particularly in the South, 
had caused the peasantry to organize themselves into secret 
societies for mutual protection. It was thus that the fa- 
mous "White Boys" of the last century so called from 
wearing linen shirts, or white woolen jackets, over their 
other clothes, so as to give them a uniform appearance 
came into existence. Their methods were crude, wild, often 
fierce and sometimes cruel. They defied the law because 
they had found no element of protection in it. Rather 
had they found it, as administered by the landlord oligarchy, 
in whose hands it was placed by the evil genius of England, 
an instrument of intolerable oppression. No justice was 
to be obtained by any appeal they might make to their ty- 
rants, and so they resorted to what an Irish orator has 
called "the wild justice of revenge. " As usual, some natu- 
rally bad men found their way into these organizations, and 

45 8 The People's History of Ireland 

often vented their malice on individuals in the name of the 
trampled people. The landlords took advantage of the 
commission of crime to get up another "Popish plot" scare, 
and succeeded in making shallow and timid people accept 
the slander as truth. The real object of the "White Boys" 
was to secure low rentals on tillage land, and to preserve 
"commonage rights" that is, grazing lands in common at 
a nominal cost, or else free, something that had long been 
the usage for their stock. The landlords, not satisfied 
with levying exorbitant rents, and grown, if possible, 
harder and more greedy than ever, finally abolished and 
fenced in "the commons." This action aroused the fury of 
the peasantry, particularly in the Munster counties, and 
they collected in large bodies and demolished the land- 
lords' fences. This gave the tyrants an excuse to call for 
military aid the argument being that the people were in 
arms against "the crown," which, of course, was false. 
The poor peasantry struck at their nearest and most visi- 
ble oppressors, and never thought about "the crown." The 
king was, to them, very like a myth. It would seem that 
many of the poorer Protestants joined with the Catholics 
in the demonstration against the inclosures, which, of course, 
showed the absurdity of the "Popish plot" story. Still, the 
affair was not to terminate until it begot a cruel tragedy. 
The parish priest of Clogheen, County Tipperary, in 1765, 
was the Rev. Nicholas Sheehy, a high-minded and saintly 
man, whose heart was deeply touched by the sufferings of 
the poor tenants, whose ardent and eloquent champion he 
became. The Cromwellian "aristocracy" of the county, 
headed by the Bagnals, the Maudes, the Bagwells, the 
Tolers, and a parson named Hewitson, resolved to get rid 
of Father Sheehy, and only waited for a good chance to 

The People's History of Ireland 459 

insnare him in their toils. Two years previous to the date 
already given, they had had the young priest arrested on a 
charge of swearing in "White Boys," but, because of insuffi- 
cient evidence, he was acquitted. Soon after he was re- 
leased, one Bridge, who had been a principal witness against 
him, mysteriously disappeared. The oligarchs had the 
priest arrested immediately on a charge of murder. The 
witnesses employed to appear against him were a horse- 
stealer, named Toohey, a vagrant youth named Lonergan, 
and an immoral woman, named Dunlea. He had lain in 
Clonmel jail, heavily ironed, for several months before he 
was brought to trial. The prosecution did not have their 
witnesses fully instructed. At last, March 12, 1765, Father 
Sheehy was brought up for trial. He succeeded in proving 
an alibi, but that was of no avail. His destruction was de- 
termined upon, and, on March 15, he suffered execution by 
hanging and subsequent decapitation. This atrocious mur- 
der aroused the anger of the country. Protestants and 
Catholics alike joined in execrating the crime. Yet, he was 
not the only victim. In May of the same year, Edward 
Sheehy, a cousin, and two other young farmers, were con- 
victed and hanged on the same testimony that had sent 
Father Sheehy to his untimely grave. McGee says : "The 
fate of their enemies is notorious; with a single exception, 
they met deaths violent, loathsome, and terrible. Maude 
died insane, Bagwell in idiocy; one of the jury committed 
suicide, another was found dead in a privy, a third was 
killed by his horse, a fourth was drowned, a fifth shot, and 
so through the entire list. Toohey was hanged for felony, 
the prostitute, Dunlea, fell into a cellar and was killed, and 
the lad, Lonergan, after enlisting as a soldier, died of a 
loathsome disease in a Dublin infirmary." 

460 The People's History of Ireland 

Another attempt at persecution of the priests was made 
in 1767, but Edmund Burke, the illustrious statesman, and 
other liberal Protestants, came to the rescue with funds for 
the defence of the accused, and the oligarchy were unable 
to secure the conviction of their intended victims. The fate 
of the perjured informers, who swore away the lives of 
Father Sheehy and his fellow-sufferers, was well known 
throughout the country, and, no doubt, had a wholesome 
effect on other wretches who might have been bribed into 
following their example. 

The "White Boys" were not the only secret organiza- 
tion formed in Ireland at that period. Some were com- 
posed of Protestants, mostly of the Presbyterian sect, who 
combated in Ulster the exactions of the landlords. They 
bore such names as "Hearts of Steel," because they were 
supposed to show no mercy to "the petty tyrants of their 
fields" ; "Oak Boys," because they carried oaken boughs, or 
wore oak leaves in their hats. The "Peep o' Day Boys" 
were political rather than agrarian, and professed the pe- 
culiar principles afterward adopted by the Orange Associa- 
tion. They confined themselves mainly to keeping up the 
anniversary of the Boyne and making occasional brutal at- 
tacks on defenceless Catholics. The respectable Protestant 
element kept scrupulously away from association with these 
rude fanatics. The successors of the "White Boys" in 
Munster were the equally dreaded "Terry Alts," who ex- 
isted down to a very recent period, and belonged, mainly, 
to the County Tipperary. Like the "White Boys," they 
raided the houses of "the gentry" and their retainers for 
arms, and severe, often fatal, conflicts resulted from their 
midnight visitations. They also killed, from time to time, 
obnoxious landlords and their agents, and were hanged by 

The People's History of Ireland 461 

the score in retaliation. The government was not over-par- 
ticular regarding their guilt or innocence. The object was to 
avenge the slain land-grabbers, and also to "strike terror." 
As usual, many base informers were found to betray their 
fellows, but, in justice to the "White Boys" and "Terry 
Alts," it may be stated that the betrayers of their secrets 
were mostly Castle spies, or detectives, employed for the 
purpose of entrapping the unwary. Very few of the regu- 
lar members, who lived among their own relatives, accepted 
blood money. In many cases, the peasantry committed un- 
necessary acts of violence, but, in general, they only visited 
with severe punishment landlords or their agents who were 
notorious evictors, or farmers who "took the land" over the 
heads of the evicted tenants. 

The Catholic Church was the consistent opponent of the 
agrarian organizations, because of the mutual bloodshed 
between them and the landlord element, but, much as the 
Catholic peasants held their bishops and priests in rever- 
ence, the admonitions of the latter had small effect on the 
young men of their flocks while wholesale evictions were in 
progress. The "boys," with rough logic, would say, among 
themselves: "The clergy mean well, but we had better be 
hanged than starved to death, and, besides, revenge on our 
tyrants is sweet." There is hardly anything in Old World 
history more ghastly than the long, desultory, and deadly 
war of tenant against landlord in Ireland, from the days of 
George II to the latter part of Victoria's reign. It is a 
chapter we gladly turn away from, with the remark that the 
cruel oligarchy, who wantonly provoked a naturally humane 
people to crime, were infinitely more criminal than the poor, 
oppressed peasants they made desperate. 

462 The People's History of Ireland 


Flood and Grattan Sudden Rise of the Latter Speaks for a Free 

Commerce The Volunteer Movement England Yields 

to Irish Demand 

IT was unfortunate for both America and Ireland that 
Henry Grattan, who had entered Parliament in Decem- 
ber, 1775, had not attained to the leadership of the Patriot 
party when the colonies revolted against the tyranny of 
George III. Flood held that position when hostilities ap- 
peared imminent, and his influence, somewhat ignorantly 
exerted, had much to do with voting 4,000 troops from the 
Irish establishment for service against the Americans. At 
the time, the American case was not as well understood 
in Ireland as it was later on, and, besides, an accommoda- 
tion was hoped for. In the course of his speech support- 
ing the policy of the government, Flood said that the troops 
from Ireland were "armed negotiators" a most unfortu- 
nate phrase, which Grattan, in after days, turned against 
him to good effect, when he uttered that fierce philippic 
against his quondam friend during an acrimonious debate 
which arose soon after the Irish Parliamentary triumph over 
England in 1782. It must be remembered by American 
readers that the Irish Parliament which voted men to put 
down the American revolutionists was Protestant in creed 
and mainly English in blood. Not a Catholic sat in it, and 
but few men of Celtic origin. The sympathies of the Cath- 
olic and dissenting masses were unmistakably with the 
Americans, and Grattan in the Irish Legislature, and Burke 
and Brinsley Sheridan in the English House of Commons, 
were their eloquent champions. Flood, although a man of 

The People's History of Ireland 463 

fine intellect and an accomplished orator, soon found him- 
self rather outclassed by Grattan, who was young, ardent, 
and animated by a "pentecostal fire," which prompted him 
to utter some of the most inspiring speeches that ever 
flowed from the lips of man. Flood, following the example 
of Malone at another period, had accepted office under the 
Harcourt administration, and it was openly charged by his 
enemies, and probably with some degree of truth, that he 
had been influenced in his action against America by the cir- 
cumstance. He had also supported the embargo measure, 
imposed by order in council, which debarred Irish food 
products from exportation to the American colonies in 
revolt. Naturally, conduct of this kind produced dissatis- 
faction among his friends and followers, and his popularity 
immediately declined. 

The decline of Flood as a Patriot leader left a free field 
for Grattan and his best-known competitors for oratorical 
honors, Hussey Burgh, Bowes Daly, and Yelverton. At 
first, Grattan was rather chary of speech in the House, but, 
gradually, he gained confidence in himself, and, although his 
gestures were awkward and his elocution generally faulty, 
the matter of his addresses was so full of fire, energy, and 
logic that he soon became the acknowledged chief of what 
Byron happily termed in his "Irish Avatar" the eloquent 
war. The restrictions on Irish commerce demanded his first 
attention, and his earlier utterances in Parliament were 
mostly devoted to that question. It has been erroneously 
stated that Henry Grattan was a "free trader" in the Amer- 
ican and British sense of that term. On the contrary, he be- 
lieved in a moderate tariff for the protection of Irish indus- 
tries, and also for the accumulation of a revenue, and this 
was fully exemplified by the action of the Irish Parliament, 

464 The People's History of Ireland 

when, from 1782 to 1800, it became virtually independent, 
in enacting tariff laws for the objects stated. It is true the 
tariff in regard to English imports was comparatively low, 
but still high enough to give the Irish manufacturer a good 
chance to compete with the manufactures of the richer coun- 
try. What Grattan and his followers wanted was free com- 
merce an exemption from the export duties, which crippled 
Irish merchants; and freedom to export Irish goods, with- 
out hindrance from English customs officers, to any country 
of the world. 

When the news of the battle of Saratoga and surrender 
of Burgoyne to the American army reached Ireland, in 1777, 
it produced a profound impression. Grattan, who always 
favored the American cause, moved an address to the throne 
in favor of retrenchment, which meant reduction of the mili- 
tary establishment, while Bowes Daly moved, and had car- 
ried, another address, which deplored the continuance of 
the American war, but professed fidelity to the royal person. 
As usual, when England got the worst of it abroad, small 
concessions were made to the Irish Catholics, and the Irish 
Parliament was permitted to pass a bill "authorizing Papists 
to loan money on mortgages, to lease lands for any period 
not exceeding 999 years, and to inherit and bequeath real 
property." This bill had "a rider" which abolished the test 
oath as regarded the Dissenters, and, no doubt, this provi- 
sion had much to do with the success of the bill as a whole, 
which did not, however, pass without strenuous opposition. 

An attempt made by Lord Nugent in the English Parlia- 
ment to mitigate the severity of the navigation and embargo 
acts, as regarded Ireland, was howled down by the English 
manufacturers, merchants, and tradespeople generally. The 
knowledge of this action spurred on Grattan and his fol- 

The People's History of Ireland 465 

lowers and, thenceforward, "Free Trade" became their rally- 
ing cry. 

Protestant Ireland, since the year of Thurot's bold ex- 
ploit, had lived in much terror of another French invasion, 
on a larger scale. When France, in 1778, became the ally 
of the United States of America, which had declared their 
independence on July 4, 1776, this feeling of alarm in- 
creased. Their leaders demanded military protection from 
the government, and were informed that the latter had none 
to give, unless they would accept invalids and dismounted 
cavalrymen. Henry Flood, seconded by Speaker Perry, had 
long advocated the formation of a national militia, and these 
gentlemen were cordially supported in the proposition by 
Grattan, Lord Charlemont, and other noted leaders of the 
Patriot party. A bill authorizing a volunteer militia passed 
the Irish Parliament in 1778. After a great deal of discus- 
sion, it was deemed more prudent to form the force from in- 
dependent organizations of volunteers, armed by the state, 
but clothed and otherwise equipped by themselves. They 
were left free to elect their own officers. Immediately, a 
patriotic impulse permeated the nation, and the Protestant 
Irish, who were alone permitted to bear arms, rallied to the 
armories and parade-grounds by the thousand. Belfast and 
Strabane claimed the honor of having formed the first com- 
panies. The richer among the Catholics supplied money to 
the poor among their Protestant neighbors for the purchase 
of uniforms and other necessaries. This patriotic action on 
their part naturally resulted in an immediate mitigation of 
the penal discrimination against them and the entrance of 
hundreds of them into the ranks of the volunteers was, at 
first, connived at, and soon openly permitted. The result 
was that, by the spring of 1780, there were, at least, 65,000 

466 The People's History of Ireland 

men under arms for Ireland in her four provinces Ulster 
leading in numbers and enthusiasm. The rank and file 
were artisans, farmers, and clerks, while the officers were, 
in general, selected from among the wealthy and aristocratic 
classes. Many of these officers equipped their companies, or 
regiments, at their own expense. The Earl of Charlemont 
a weak but well-meaning nobleman was elected com- 
mander by the Ulster volunteers, while the amiable Duke of 
Leinster the second of that proud title was chosen by 
those of Leinster. Munster and Connaught, not being quite 
as well organized as their sister provinces, deferred their 
selections. All English goods were tabooed by the volun- 
teers, their families, and friends, and a favorite maxim of 
the period was that of Dean Swift, already quoted, "Burn 
everything coming from England, except the coal!" 

The now feeble shadow of English government, holding 
court at Dublin Castle, viewed this formidable uprising 
with genuine alarm, and did its utmost to prevent the issu- 
ance of arms to the volunteers, but the Irish leaders were 
not to be cajoled or baffled, and, in the summer of 1779, 
the new Irish army was thoroughly armed, drilled and 
ready for any service that might be demanded from it. 
The leaders had now the weapon to enforce their rights in 
hand, and did not fail to make good use of it. They met 
and formed plans for the coming session of Parliament, 
and were delighted to receive assurances from Flood, and 
other officeholders, that they would support Grattan and 
his allies in the demand that Irish commerce have "free 
export and import." 

An address, covering the points stated, with the amend- 
ment "free trade" substituted by Flood for the original 
phrase, passed the Houses, when they met, and on the sue- 

The People's History of Ireland 467 

ceeding day the House of Commons, with the Speaker at 
its head, proceeded to the Castle and presented the address 
to the viceroy. The volunteers, commanded by the Duke 
of Leinster, occupied both sides of the streets through which 
the members had to pass and presented arms to the nation's 
representatives, many of whom wore the diversified uni- 
forms of the Patriot army. Dublin, in all its varied 
history, never witnessed a grander or more inspiring 

Alderman Horan, of Dublin, precipitated a crisis by de- 
manding freedom of export for some Irish woolens to 
Amsterdam, and he filed his demand, in due form, at the 
custom house. This was in defiance of the prohibitory en- 
actment of the reign of William III and an English man- 
of-war was stationed in Dublin Bay to enforce it. Mr. 
Horan, not being provided with a battleship, was fain to 
content himself with leaving his demand on file, but he had 
gained his point by directing public attention to an insult- 
ing grievance with a stern object lesson. Ireland saw, at 
once, that English monopoly would yield nothing, except to 
force, or the threat of force. Henry Grattan, in the Com- 
mons, replied to the shotted guns of the English frigate 
in the bay by introducing an amendment to the supply 
bill, which declared that "at this time, it is inexpedient 
to grant new taxes." This was carried overwhelmingly, 
and England began to think that, after all, Irish votes were 
a match for English guns. Grattan gained a further triumph 
over the government by causing the defeat of a bill provid- 
ing duties for the support of the loan fund. 

Lord North, when confronted with the ominous news 
from Ireland, remembering his unfortunate experience with 
the American patriots, determined to back down from his 

468 The People's History of Ireland 

former despotic position. He brought in resolutions which 
gave Ireland the right to trade with British colonies in 
'America and Africa, and granted free export to glass .and 
woolens. The Irish Parliament adopted similar resolutions, 
and the main portion of Ireland's commercial grievances 
was, thereby, removed. 





DA Finerty, John Frederick 
910 Ireland